Yorkshire Fair Charity - Yorkshire Air Ambulance
Living North partnered with Yorkshire Air Ambulance as their charity for 2018's Christmas Fair. As they celebrate 18 years since their inception, we looked at what makes Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s service so invaluable and how it continues to deliver a rapid-response emergency service with flying colours.
Covering 6,000 square miles, Yorkshire includes some of the most diverse topography in the UK. From windswept upland moors and remote valleys to teeming cities and busy motorways, each presents its own set of challenges when it comes to emergency rescue operations.
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) was established in October 2000, in response to the need for an emergency rescue service to cover the areas land-based ambulances struggled to reach.
‘The swift medical interventions provided by our air ambulance crews have a major impact on a patient’s chance of survival and subsequent quality of life,’ says Helen Callear, YAA’s Regional fundraising Manager for North Yorkshire.
‘This is particularly important in rural areas of Yorkshire,’ explains Helen, ‘as hospitals can be more than an hour away.
‘Unlike road ambulances, which often travel on twisting and bumpy roads, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance can quickly get patients to the nearest Major Trauma Centre or most appropriate hospital as the crow flies. They also fly very smoothly, which is vital for seriously injured patients.’
It is not just in rural communities that air ambulances come into their own – they can also provide invaluable support in urban areas. Some of the UK’s busiest road networks run through Yorkshire, and air ambulances can be particularly efficient in gaining access to road accidents and providing rapid-response care for casualties.
‘The air ambulance is able to land next to the roadside or in nearby fields,’ Helen explains. ‘Which means we can often get to the scene of the accident quicker than a land ambulance caught up in congestion.’ As road accidents can sadly involve serious injuries, patients can often require specialist care.
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance currently operates two helicopters. To keep them both maintained and in the air, the YAA needs to raise £12,000 every day. Last year they treated 1,067 patients at the scene of their accident, carrying 599 of them to hospital for further lifesaving treatment.
The air desk is at the centre of every rescue operation. ‘We were the first air ambulance in the UK to own and operate a dedicated air desk,’ says Helen. ‘It plays an integral role in filtering calls from the Yorkshire 999 call centre. We always have a paramedic on the desk, using their expertise to identify calls which may require an air ambulance. Once a call is received, the air desk controller will brief the team, who will then rush to the helicopter, do all the safety checks and then set off and find a place to land. The average dispatch time is approximately two minutes.’ This quick turnaround can make all the difference in getting patients the emergency care that they need.
‘It’s an enormous privilege to be part of this process, really,’ says Helen. ‘Sometimes work is demanding and the days are long, but then occasionally you will see the helicopter going overhead and you think, someone has had a bad day, and really feel for them, but you feel proud that they are getting the excellent medical care they need to give them the very best outcome possible. There is no better motivation that that.’
A desire to help each patient and respect their circumstances as an individual is at the heart of everything the YAA does. ‘Every story is unique,’ says Helen. ‘We treat every patient individually – and we must also consider that every patient we attend has had potentially life-threatening injuries. The accident may have impacted on their life significantly,’ she continues. ‘It is important that this is taken into account and respected.’