RAF helicopters on hand to assist with medical transfers in Scotland

RAF helicopters are on standby in Scotland as part of a UK-wide coronavirus aviation task force.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said three RAF Puma helicopters are stationed at Kinloss Barracks in Moray.

The aircraft will be used alongside two in North Yorkshire to meet requests for assistance from the NHS across Scotland and Northern England.

This includes being available round the clock for medical transport and general support such as moving equipment and personnel.

The announcement follows an RAF transport aircraft being used to help the Scottish Ambulance Service in the evacuation of a critically ill patient, reported to have Covid-19, from Shetland to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Sunday.

A team of Army medical, logistics, supply and humanitarian relief planners joined the Scottish Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre team earlier this week, as the Armed Forces step up their coronavirus support in Scotland.

The group of military planners and liaison officers is now based at the Scottish Government headquarters, St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, and will be supported by the Battalion Headquarters of Penicuik-based 2 SCOTS, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Further military liaison staff will be made available to every health board in Scotland.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The creation of these helicopter hubs is the next step in our Armed Forces’ contribution to tackling the coronavirus outbreak whenever it appears throughout the United Kingdom.

“Our aircraft are ready to support emergency services and local communities wherever needed across the Highlands and islands of Scotland – the Armed Forces have always got your back.”

Alister Jack
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack welcomed the support (Aaron Chown/PA)

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack added: “The UK’s Armed Forces are doing a fantastic job in supporting the country’s efforts to tackle coronavirus.

“The UK Government is working closely with the Scottish Government on our response, and the MoD will be able to offer them much-needed specialist skills.”

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Scotland’s public services and our NHS are working flat out to support the effort to tackle Covid-19.

“Our Scottish Government resilience operation has always had a strong working relationship with the Armed Forces, offering assistance during severe weather, and we welcome their support during these unprecedented and difficult times.”

On Thursday, the Army officers were seen at the SEC in Glasgow as the service confirmed it is a potential site for a NHS temporary hospital.

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