Mountain drama as air ambulance makes 1000th call-out

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57-year-old man had to evacuated to hospital suffering severe from chest pains

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30th March 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

A charity air ambulance’s 1000th rescue mission was certainly one to remember after a 57-year-old man had to be evacuated from a mountain-side and flown immediately to hospital.

Taxi driver Allan Thornhill was out walking on the slopes of Schiehallion in Highland Perthshire with his wife Lesley over the Easter break when he started suffering chest pain.

With the pain getting more severe, Allan was dodubled up in agony and struggling to breathe. The pair, from Troon, along with passer-by Gavin Law from Musselburgh, called the emergency services and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA), the country’s only charity-funded helicopter air ambulance, was scrambled from its base at Perth Airport.

The charity’s helicopter managed to reach Allan quickly but due to the terrain was forced to land about 300 metres downhill  (pictured below) of the patient.

Other hillwalkers quickly volunteered their services and six members of the public helped the two SCAA paramedics carry the stretcher down the steep rough ground back to the helicopter – which transported Allan to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee – a 20 minute flight that would have taken well over an hour and a half by road.

Mountain drama as air ambulance makes 1000th call-outAllan Thornhill

SCAA is worth its weight in gold to the people of Scotland. They are heroes. I owe them my life

Speaking from his home in Troon, where he is now recovering, Allan said if it hadn’t been for SCAA things could be very different for his family.

“I felt real fear and panic,” he recalled. “I knew we were miles from anywhere and I was getting worse - the pain was intense across my chest and jaw.

“I was drifting in and out but when I heard the helicopter and saw it land further down the hill I remember a great wave of relief and when the paramedics were at my side I started to feel new hope.

“SCAA is worth its weight in gold to the people of Scotland.

“I was able to see my grandchildren enjoy their Easter eggs thanks to this amazing team - it could so easily have been a totally different outcome without them.

“They are heroes. I owe them my life and I promise I will make it to the top of Schiehallion one day - sponsored by all my friends and family - to raise money for SCAA in order that they can keep helping people like me every day in Scotland.”

Law, an army lawyer, said the helicopter was invaluable: “I heard a woman shouting for help further up the slope and found her husband doubled over on the ground looking very unwell,” he recalled.

“He was having difficulty breathing and was complaining of severe pains in his chest and I realised it was pretty serious.

“I immediately dialled 999. They kept me talking and said help was on its way.

“The helicopter air ambulance proved vital on the day. The car park was some distance away and the land ambulance crew faced quite a climb.

“They would also have had a long journey back over rough ground with the patient to reach the ambulance even before they started the long drive to hospital.”

SCAA’s landmark rescue mission comes just three years after it was launched.

Now firmly established as a key element of Scotland’s nationwide emergency response network, it has flown nearly 87,000 miles - more than three times round the earth - taking it to emergencies right across Scotland on an average mission length of 45 minutes.

Commenting on the milestone mission, SCAA chief executive David Craig described it as “a remarkable achievement” for the charity.

“Since launching just less than three years ago we have helped to improve and save the lives of hundreds of people in critical need of emergency care,” he said.

“We are hugely indebted to the people, businesses and communities of Scotland who have supported us since day one and continue to keep us flying.

“As we receive no government funding, we rely on the general public to help us raise the £2 million every year to maintain this vital service. As we go forward into the next 1,000 callouts, I would like to thank everyone who has donated funds, our crew and charity staff, volunteers and our partners - the Scottish Ambulance Service and Bond Air Services.”