Yorkshire Air Ambulance Suspends Services

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Yorkshire Air Ambulance announces it is suspending its operations to allow for the redeployment of staff during COVID-19.

In a move that emphasises the importance of staying home and staying safe as much as possible, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance will be ceasing its services as of today. With its paramedics needed elsewhere to meet the demands of the coronavirus pandemic, it will no longer be flying to assist in rescues. In practice, this means that there will no longer be helicopter back up for a whole range of medical emergencies. This doesn’t just mean mountain bikers, or other outdoor users in remote areas, it also includes those who require urgent transfer from road traffic accidents. But it should give riders another cause to think twice before riding off into the hills and far away.

Read the full statement from Yorkshire Air Ambulance below. It cites the new Harrogate temporary hospital as putting an extra strain on resources – but with similar facilities being developed around the country, we won’t be surprised to find other Air Ambulance services being put in the same position and suspending services.

Updated Operational Statement – 03.04.2020

Following on from the statement published earlier this week (30.03.2020), and due to the intensifying situation surrounding Coronavirus and the urgent need for more highly skilled paramedics on the frontline, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) have had to take the extremely difficult decision to redeploy all of their Critical Care Paramedics onto frontline land ambulance duties.

Image credit: Yorkshire Air Ambulance

This comes just days after it was announced that the YAA’s Critical Care Consultants were to be redeployed back to their respective hospitals to focus on their primary roles in emergency medicine, anaesthesia and critical care across Yorkshire.

The announcement coincides with the news that the Harrogate Convention Centre is to be opened as one of four national Coronavirus NHS Nightingale Hospitals specifically set up to deal with patients of the pandemic.

Peter Sunderland, Chairman of the YAA explains: “As the NHS anticipates the Coronavirus crisis will intensify in the region over the next few weeks, demand on the new Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate will inevitably increase. This means that patients will need transferring by road ambulance to the facility, and this will be supported by YAS’s specialist team of highly skilled Paramedics. As our Critical Care Paramedics fall into this category, is it vitally important that their skills are utilised to provide as much support as possible during this crisis period.”

This means that for a temporary period, the YAA will be unable to fly either of their Air Ambulance helicopters, for emergency purposes for now. They will however, be periodically undertaking some essential & mandatory Pilot training, along with the possibility of providing assistance to the civil powers. This may include transferring essential medical equipment or personnel across the region at some point in the future.

Peter continues: “Obviously this situation isn’t ideal for the Charity, however we know we must do whatever we can to support our colleagues in the NHS and at YAS, and by redeploying our Doctors and Paramedics back to the frontline, where they are currently needed the most, this is the best decision we can take at this time. We do wish to reinforce however, that this is just a temporary measure, and that the YAA crews and helicopters will be back flying as soon as the situation starts to safely subside.”

The YAA crew will complete their last shift from their Nostell Airbase today (03.04.2020) before being immediately redeployed to the YAS frontline.

Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust added: “This has been the most difficult of decisions, but we are currently operating in unprecedented times and we need to ensure that valuable clinical resources are in place where they can be of most benefit to patients. We are sincerely grateful to Peter Sunderland and his team for their understanding and continued support at this challenging time.”

Peter concluded: “It is times like these when, as a nation, we must all pull together to support one and other, and in particular the NHS and our key workers. Our vital contribution at this time is to support them by redeploying our key medical personnel back to the frontline, where they are currently needed the most.

“The Charity will continue to do everything it can at this time to plan for the future, and as soon as this situation has safely subsided, our helicopters will be back in the air and our fundraising teams will be back out and about supporting and educating the people of Yorkshire about the wonderful work we do.

“Finally, we would also reiterate our message from earlier in the week reinforcing the government’s message to stay at home and only travel for essential reasons if you have to. We must all do our bit to help stop the spread of this virus as soon as possible. Please ensure you and your loved ones keep safe and I personally thank everyone for their ongoing support.”

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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Comments (9)

    That’s bad, definitely another good reason to take it easy. Just wanted to point out that you’re factually wrong about stating “you are allowed out to exercise once a day” on the No car, No gnar, Not far thing. The coronavirus restrictions don’t say anything about how many times you can go out to exercise. Sorry to be pedantic but it’s sloppy journalism. Well intentioned I’m sure, but wrong.

    @scn170 here in the UK government appear to be saying one form of exercise a day, you interpreting it differently?


    @sc170 The government guidance says
    ‘You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
    • shopping for basic necessities, [….]
    • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your


    What doesn’t say once a day about that?

    My goodness. The Yorkshire Air Ambulance saved my life when I crashed on my road bike outside of Hebden Bridge 18 months ago, so I can attest to their importance. That they should have to suspend service is a testament both to the severity of our current situation, and how much more careful we will need to be until the country is up and running again.

    Stay safe all. Please.

    I think the confusion has arisen because the guidance given to police about what is legally enforceable says that to take exercise is a “reasonable excuse” for leaving the home. The guidance makes no stipulation whatsoever about the length, frequency or type of exercise. The guidance from the government about “up to one hour once a day in one form of exercise” is obviously sensible but at present lacks legal enforceability and the senior ranks of the police are rightly dubious about getting involved.

    Yep. The regulations don’t say anything specific about the frequency if going out.
    Its the guidance (the non legal bit) than suggests once a day. Just as the Highway Code is not law, it’s a helpful guide in plainer English.

    The point people DO need to realise though is that if people start working to the letter of the law and taking the p1ss out of the intent, then what will happen is the law will get revised to stamp out a whole lot more. And we’ll then not be allowed out at all. Bit like in Spain or India. I myself don’t want to end up be limited to taking my dawg 300m from the house max by law, when I’m able to get away from people and houses within 100m at the mo and go walk a few quiet people-free miles.

    I hope thw d1ckheads out there realise it this weekend and don’t ruin it for the sensible ones.

    I believe in Wales the once a day is legally enforced, btw. Let’s see how many numpties decide to take a trip to the seaside this weekend. And hopefully all us mountain bikers will behave better than the general public, so we don’t go bringing restrictions on ourselves…

    here you go @sc170,

    Cut’n’pasted from the gov website

    Can I walk my dog / look after my horse?

    Yes – provided it is alone or with members of your household.

    People must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus. But you can also still go outside once a day[/b} for a walk, run, cycle. When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.

    Clear enough ???????

    @vortexracing, @hannahdobson et al – it is guidance and unlike Wales not currently law
    @sc170 is absolutely correct. There is even an article on the BBC today about it
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51506729 which in the section titled ‘what are the rules on exercise?’ outlines this.
    The reason it is phrased like this is most likely to reduce police workload in questioning everyone on how many times they have exercised today. Likewise there are no official time limits, just more guidance. The key point is that we are being asked to be responsible individuals and adhere to the guidance, not look for ways to get round them. However if the volume of traffic heading towards the beach here in Brighton and Hove today, plus the reports on the volumes of MTBers driving to the surrey hills over the last couple of days are indicative of the national situation, I suspect we will find that a clampdown is coming.

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