Alex takes to the sky to help save lives

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A paramedic’s career is hitting new heights after he was chosen to be part of Scotland’s first charity helicopter air ambulance team.

Alex Holden, from Falkirk, will be one of a five-strong crew taking to the air in a bid to save lives.

He’s been undergoing intensive training over the past few weeks and, despite having some initial nerves about the move, the first-time flyer can’t wait to get airborne when the service starts in April.

“It’s great to be part of an exciting new venture and I’m looking forward to it going operational in a couple of months,” said Alex, a former pupil of Shieldhill Primary and Woodland High School.

“I was apprehensive about going up in a helicopter for the first time as it was so far out of my comfort zone but I really enjoyed it.

“I have all the paramedic skills required for this role - it’s now a case of learning about helicopters.”

Alex has been getting aircraft familiarisation and specialist training in emergency procedures, flight protocols, patient handling, meteorology, navigation and flight dynamics at Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance’s base at Perth Airport.

He has worked with the Scottish Ambulance Service for 12 years and was paramedic team leader at the Falkirk station in Windsor Road for three years, but he is now building up flying hours working with the organisation’s two government-funded helicopter air ambulances.

The adventurous father-of-three has certainly got the fitness levels and head for heights required for the job, doing triathlons and ice climbing in his spare time.

He added: “The job appeals to the adventurous side of my nature but also continues my work as a frontline paramedic dedicated to saving lives.

“It has offered me a change of direction and new challenges without leaving the Scottish Ambulance Service and I’m really looking forward to the charity, literally, getting off the ground.”

Bond Air Services’ training services manager Andy Mottram, who is conducting the training, said Alex and his team will hit the ground running and be up to the challenges that lie ahead.

“The five are top-line paramedics and they show all the aptitude, enthusiasm and ability to make first class air ambulance crew,” he said.

“The helicopter is a completely different environment for them but they all seem comfortable with it and are settling into training perfectly.”

Around £1.5 million is needed annually to fund Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance. To donate or learn more visit www.scaa.org.uk.