CAAT Reaffirms Commitment to Scilly

Cornwall Air Ambulance has reaffirmed its commitment to the Isles of Scilly, as British International Helicopters closes its passenger service to the islands.

Both the Cornwall Air Ambulance and the RNAS Culdrose Search and Rescue helicopter play a vital role in providing emergency links to the mainland for islanders and visitors alike.

The Cornwall Air Ambulance currently attends around 100 calls on the islands every year, airlifting seriously ill and injured patients to the mainland for urgent and often lifesaving treatment.

Chief Executive of Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, Paula Martin, said: “It is difficult to predict the impact of the closure of the BIH service on the demand for the air ambulance from the islands.

"It is hard to know what may now fall into the category of an emergency flight. If someone urgently requires specialist medical attention, such as cancer treatment, dialysis, or specialist maternity care, and they are unable to access other transport to the mainland, the demand for the air ambulance may increase.

“We will work closely with the ambulance service and hospital authorities to ensure that we continue to provide a service to those patients who need emergency and urgent transfer to the Royal Cornwall Hospital or beyond, in order to receive essential and lifesaving treatment.”

The air ambulance response time to Scilly is under 28 minutes, including the 8 minutes it takes to cross the stretch of sea between Lands End and St Marys. Already this year, the Cornwall Air Ambulance has responded to 64 calls on the islands, attending an average of 3 missions per week in the busy summer months.

Some of these flights are classified as ‘inter-hospital transfers’, and are paid for by the Department for Health. Many flights, however, are to airlift patients direct from the scene of an incident, and are paid for by the charity.

Tom Matthews, events fundraiser for Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, said: “With their remote geographical location, the Cornwall Air Ambulance is an essential service for the islands, something I know through personal experience.

“The community on the islands have been fantastic over the past 25 years, getting involved with all manner of fundraising activities to help the charity meet the cost of the service to the islands. The forthcoming Rowvember challenge is another brilliant example of the continuing support we receive from the Isles of Scilly.

“It is only because of the generous support of the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that we are able to continue to fund this vital service.

"We also wish to pass on our thanks and best wishes for the future to all the staff at British International Helicopters in Penzance and on the islands for their help and support over the years."