RAF Puma helicopter transfers suspected Covid-19 patient

23 April 2020 (Last Updated April 23rd, 2020 12:01)

An RAF Puma helicopter based at Kinloss Barracks in Scotland has transferred a critically ill patient from the Isle of Arran after the patient showed severe symptoms of Covid-19.

RAF Puma helicopter transfers suspected Covid-19 patient
An RAF Puma helicopter based at Kinloss Barracks, Scotland has transferred the first critically ill patient from the Isle of Arran. Credit: © Crown copyright.

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An RAF Puma helicopter based at Kinloss Barracks in Scotland has transferred a critically ill patient from the Isle of Arran after the patient showed severe symptoms of Covid-19.

Supporting the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland, three Pumas stationed at Kinloss Barracks are part of a new aviation task force assisting the government’s response to the virus.

The patient was transferred to the University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock. A three-person helicopter crew conducted the transfer.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Today’s medical evacuation is a great example of the UK Armed Forces’ ability to support our most remote communities across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) has increased its capacity of airlifting patients on the islands.

The government is ensuring patients with or without coronavirus symptoms are transported to receive the required healthcare.

SAS resources, ferries, maritime coastguard, Logan Air and the armed forces are used for this purpose.

Squadron Leader Johnny Longland said: “Just over three hours after the crew received the call, the patient had travelled 162 nautical miles and was in the Intensive Care Unit.

“The training that we conducted with the emergency medical teams across Scotland ensured that, when the time came, we were all ready for a quick and smooth transfer of a patient.”

Upon arrival on the Isle of Arran, the aircraft was temporarily shut down. An emergency medical team attended the patient and prepared for transfer.

The SAS Emergency Medical Retrieval team was met by their Special Operations Response Team and Divisional crew upon landing.

Following this, the patient was swiftly transported to the Intensive Care Unit in Crosshouse Hospital. Currently, the patient is receiving enhanced care required for recovery.

Upon returning, the aircraft and the crew underwent strict decontamination procedures to avoid further spread of the virus.

The RAF Puma, Army Air Corps Wildcat, RAF Chinook and Royal Navy Merlin are on the standby across the UK. They provide essential medical evacuation capabilities and deliver essential equipment and personnel when required.