Scotland’s Farmers Team Up with Air Ambulance Charity to Launch a New Emergency Incident Initiative

Accurate location identification could help save lives

A potentially life-saving initiative to help rural workers pinpoint their exact location in an emergency is being launched by NFU Scotland and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA), working alongside the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Statistics show that those employed in the rural and agricultural industries across Scotland face the greatest danger of accident or mishap of all professions. And when the worst happens in remote and isolated areas, getting help quickly to the right location is of paramount importance.

Now the Union and SCAA are encouraging farmers, crofters, landowners and other rural workers to adopt an easy-to-use grid reference system which will help define accurately their location when summoning help.

By carrying a pocket-sized card detailing the grid reference of key landmarks on their land, which are clearly visible to emergency responders, anyone involved in an accident can pass on an accurate location to emergency services, allowing help to find them easily.

The reference point cards - detailing unique landmarks such as lochs, prominent hills, masts, water features, churches, bridges or road features - can be copied and kept in multiple locations by everyone on the farm, including on the farm vehicles, in workers’ pockets or pasted to the back of their mobile phones.

NFU Scotland’s regional co-ordinator Lisa Roberts, welcomed the opportunity to work with SCAA and help promote the initiative.

She commented: “With the number of accidents increasing in the agricultural industry year on year, a simple tool like knowing a suitable location for the emergency services to find a casualty could potentially save time and in turn lives.

“Farming communities, especially those in more rural and remote areas, rely heavily on the services of responders such as SCAA and by working together to raise awareness of the importance of the identification of accurate locations, we can hopefully help emergency services locate the casualty quickly.

“I hope farmers, crofters and landowners up and down the country will get on board and have this sort of information available if they ever need to use it. Creating their own unique card of reference points is so easy to do, but can be crucial to allow the emergency services to reach a patient as quickly as possible.”

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

“Our air and road ambulance teams respond to 999 calls for assistance on farms across Scotland. While they are supported by sophisticated mapping and GPS systems, any additional information from the scene that highlights local landmarks will help crews locate patients as quickly as possible.”

Gavin Davey, Chief Executive of Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance said:

“Farmers from across Scotland have been very supportive of SCAA since we launched on operations last year and we are very grateful for their wide and varied fundraising events.

“It was at one of these events that farmers highlighted the seriousness of agricultural accidents and the value of air ambulances in remote and rural areas.

“SCAA responds regularly to rural incidents - many of them involving agricultural workers. It is sometimes difficult for farmers and rural workers to pinpoint their exact location and we are pleased to be able to work with NFU Scotland and its members to produce jointly a straightforward method of detailing their exact location to summon help.

“By working together we have produced a simple, easy-to-follow, system for land workers to create a network of distinct reference points across their land.

“Following a recent workshop with a group of farmers in Pitlochry, they were very keen to introduce the system and NFU Scotland saw this as an opportunity to work with SCAA to promote the model across Scotland.”

The initiative has the potential to be rolled out to other countryside users such as gamekeepers, forestry workers, golf course staff and estate workers.

NFU Scotland’s members already have a great appreciation for the work of the SCAA.  At the Royal Highland Show, NFU Scotland’s Regional Manager for the North East, Lorna Paterson, and John Gordon, chairman of the Huntly/Insch Branch, presented Scotland’s only charity funded air ambulance helicopter with a cheque for £1,600. The money was raised as part of the Joe Watson Memorial Stock-judging Night on June 6, held in Rothiemay.

Notes to Editors:

  • SCAA’s Vision is to provide a long-term sustainable and scalable air ambulance capability to complement statutory resources across Scotland. 
  • SCAA’s charitable purpose is the emergency relief of serious sickness and injury and the protection of human life across Scotland by the provision of a sustainable air ambulance capability based in East Central Scotland, in order to save life, preserve life, increase survival rates and assist the speed of recovery in time critical medical emergencies.
  • SCAA is dispatched by the Scottish Ambulance Service and operates across Scotland alongside their helicopters and planes based at Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, to enable a response to be made to more 999 calls.
  • For more information on SCAA visit
  • The Joe Watson Memorial Evening was held in memory of well-known agriculture journalist of the Press and Journal, Joe Watson who died suddenly in March. The charity event was organised by the Huntly/Insch Branch with more than 500 turning out to Auchincrieve Farm, Rothiemay for the event.
  • Photographs of Scotland’s Air Ambulance as well as the cheque presentation of the monies raised at the Joe Watson Memorial Evening are available upon request by contacting or by calling 0131 472 4000.


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 122/14

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