RAF Puma helicopters based at Kinloss Barracks: a team practising loading a patient onto the helicopter

RAF Puma in Scotland: the first island medical evacuation complete

An RAF Puma helicopter based at Kinloss has supported the NHS in Scotland with the first Coronavirus-related transfer of a critically ill patient from the Isle of Arran. Find out more about the Aviation Taskforce in Scotland:

The COVID Support Force’s Aviation Taskforce has been providing helicopters to support the NHS and other government departments across the UK, with bases from as far south as Culdrose in Cornwall, to Kinloss Barracks up in Scotland.

Three Puma Helicopters at Kinloss Barracks are part of the government’s new Taskforce to support the Coronavirus response in Scotland.

The critical care team standing in front of an RAF Puma helicopter in training

At 0100 on Wednesday, the crew were called to support the transfer of a critically ill patient, from the Isle of Arran to the University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock, after it was suspected the patient would test positive for coronavirus.

The crew scrambled their Puma helicopter and flew to Arran, where they met with the emergency medical care team on site.

A RAF Puma helicopter

The crew donned their Personal Protective Equipment for the duration of the mission and went through a full decontamination of themselves as well as the aircraft once they’d returned to their base.

“Just over 3 hours after the crew received the call, the patient 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.”

A soldier looking out of the RAF Puma helicopter during training

“The entire ATF and I are stood by and ready to do whatever is asked and everyone is extremely proud to be doing this for the country.

We all know that this will be the biggest and potentially the most demanding mission of our careers. The military is ready to support the country.

It’s what we joined to do, and we are very proud and motivated to succeed.”

On the 22nd March, a critical care team evacuated a 46-year old Coronavirus patient. They flew the patient from the Shetland Islands to an intensive care unit in Aberdeen, using an Atlas (A400M) transport aircraft.

An Atlas A400m transport aircraft
View from the cockpit of a RAF Puma helicopter in Scotland

Find out about the UK Armed Forces’ response to the Coronavirus crisis:

Find out where the UK Armed Forces are deployed here:

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