Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 12:16 UK

Helicopter flies through volcano ash in Shetland rescue

Shetland Coastguard rescue helicopter
The decision was taken to use a helicopter for the patient

A rescue helicopter was flown through clouds of volcano ash to help a woman on Shetland who was in a "life or death" situation.

The woman was seriously ill in the Out Skerries, and it was feared ferry travel may take too long.

The Shetland Coastguard helicopter crew decided to fly through not only ash, but low visibility caused by rain and mist on Friday morning.

The casualty was taken to Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick.

Pilot John Grant told BBC Scotland there was evidence of ash deposits on the helicopter on their return.

Martin Sykes, watch manager at Shetland Coastguard, explained: "After discussions with ambulance control we realised that this was a life or death situation with a casualty in a very serious condition.

"The helicopter crew made the difficult decision to fly through the clouds of ash, mist, and rain in a bid to save the woman who is now receiving treatment in hospital."

He added: "After every operational trip the helicopter is given a thorough clean thereby removing any debris that has built up."

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