Episode 13 Helicopter Heroes


Episode 13

Rav Wilding looks at the work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. There is a plane crash on a rural airfield, while a rocket scientist crashes to earth in a bike accident.


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Transcript


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If you're critically ill or seriously injured in a place like this,

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there's only one thing that can save you, and that's speed.

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No matter where you are,

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this helicopter with its highly-trained team of pilots and paramedics

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will fly to your rescue at 4.5 miles a minute.

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These are Yorkshire's helicopter heroes.

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When the people of Britain's biggest county dial 999,

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there's a good chance help will come from the skies.

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The Yorkshire Air Ambulance is ready to scramble 365 days a year.

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Each one brings a new life-or-death emergency.

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Today on Helicopter Heroes:

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a pleasure flight ends in a terrible crash

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and the pilot's wife is trapped.

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Is this blood loss been from head injury?

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You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this hurts.

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He's a bright guy, a character!

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But is so happens this patient works for NASA.

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A new home-owner has an unexpected visitor.

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I've been here just three months. I haven't even unpacked yet!

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And the former flight attendant determined to become one of the Helimed team.

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Having your own private plane is a dream for thousands.

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Weekends away and no traffic jams!

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But flying a light aircraft

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is not as safe as checking in for that jet to the sun.

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As one couple found out on one sunny summer's day.

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The skies over Yorkshire are a playground for weekend pilots.

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And when a plane crashes, the Helimed team scramble instantly.

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..a green field. We're trying to sort out who's going out.

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The crew are keen to get on the way, but Helimed 99 must take on more fuel

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before it can take off.

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The team don't waste any time, though,

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as they finalise their route to the crash scene.

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East of Norton-on-Derwent. Find Norton-on-Derwent,

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which is here. Come east.

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Is it next door to Eddsfield airfield?

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-That's where we'll be.

-That's where it is.

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50 miles away, emergency services are fighting to free the female passenger

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in a plane that left the runway and crashed through the hedge

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at an airstrip on top of the Yorkshire Wolds.

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We found a 49-year-old patient

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trapped in the cockpit of the plane.

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Airborne at last, paramedic Ben Anderson is only on his second week in the air

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and he knows his skills will be tested today.

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I got told head injury and leg injury that was bleeding profusely.

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OK.

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At least Tony Wilkes has been to air crashes before

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and the scene of the accident is familiar.

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A light aircraft has crashed. Not sure if it's on takeoff or landing.

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It's at an airfield that we know.

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Every now and again we call in for some fuel.

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Obviously, they're not designed to crash, but you do.

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You don't always have the protection that you'd like.

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At Eddsfield, the tiny airfield near the market town of Driffield,

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part-time fire-fighters are hard at work

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removing the canopy of the plane to reach Denise Lee

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whose husband Brian was flying.

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Helimed pilot JJ Smith

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is curious to find out what went wrong.

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-Did she go through the fence?

-Apparently, yeah.

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Check for landing, please.

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Seatbelts.

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At last, Helimed 99 is on final approach to Eddsfield.

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JJ isn't hanging about.

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It's going to be rough as we go down, guys.

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He knows an airfield won't have the wires and trees

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he has to look out for on a normal approach.

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Businessman and part-time pilot Brian Lee was coming in to land

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when something went wrong and his £50,000 Robin light plane

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careered off the end of the runway,

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smashed through a ledge and hit a fence.

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Now his wife is badly hurt.

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What's it gone up to now?

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-It's when she moves it, it whops straight up to ten.

-OK.

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Despite wearing a full safety harness,

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both bones in Denise's right leg are broken

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and she's bleeding heavily from a cut to her head.

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Has all this blood loss just been from head injury?

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Was someone sat here as well?

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What's worrying the fire brigade

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is the high-octane aviation fuel leaking from the damaged tanks in the aircraft's wings.

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If it catches fire, they'll have seconds to react.

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It's still leaking fuel.

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Yeah.

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To make things worse, they can't rule out a spinal injury,

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which means moving Denise quickly could paralyse her.

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It's a dangerous situation.

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All we've done is assist by removing the canopy

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to help release the casualty.

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The lady's not actually trapped, but it'll be a difficult extrication

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because of her injuries.

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We're going to put her on a spine board

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and then lift her out.

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Have we got any more... Can we get another BP at all,

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-or is it gonna cause...

-Yeah, we can...

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The damage to the aircraft is an indication of the deceleration

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Denise experienced as the aircraft hit the fence.

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Now Brian, who escaped unhurt,

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can only stand and watch the battle to free his wife.

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The pilot is walking wounded,

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but not seriously wounded.

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They're both very lucky. Both very lucky.

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Once we start moving her, the thing is...

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Denise's badly broken leg and fears for her back

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means the operation to lift her from the cockpit

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will have to be long and delicate.

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And the fuel is continuing to leak.

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I'm concerned at the minute that the aircraft's still leaking fuel.

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We'll be as quick as we can to get out of this position.

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It's definite fractured legs.

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But she's not unconscious, so that's as bad as it's gonna get.

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But to be honest, we're not gonna take too long to get her out

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and make it safe.

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Coming up: the team prepare to free Denise,

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but it isn't going to be easy.

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Lean on her side and bring her legs forward.

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A van driver crashes into a roadside house.

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He's extremely lucky to get out the way he has.

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And new paramedic Al needs a head for heights

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to treat his first patient.

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Let's feel your chest.

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Mountain biking is a booming sport.

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Serious off-road riders head to the North Yorkshire hills

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to test out their skills.

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But coming off one can have serious consequences.

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The North York Moors National Park

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is one of the UK's biggest tourist attractions.

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500 square miles of rolling hills.

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Thousands come here to ride the steam railway

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or hike 1,400 miles of moorland footpath.

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But Dalby Forest, in the heart of the park,

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conceals another more dangerous attraction.

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Paramedic Pat Greaken is about to meet up with an unusual patient.

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A mountain biker who's come off on a track in the heart of the trees.

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It's not the Americans' fault that you good people...

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It's clear he's not local!

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AMERICAN ACCENT: I'm not going to Disneyland, for sure!

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31-year-old Gabriel Sibley is from Boulder, Colorado.

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He's no stranger to coming off things at high speed.

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I've shattered my right hand. I have seven pins in my right hand.

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And that morphine's BLEEP hardcore.

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I barf like a BLEEP.

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I can give you something for vomiting.

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As well as having a way with words,

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Pat's patient seems to have a clear idea of what's going to happen.

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In fact, he's a bit of an expert!

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I hope you're good at intravenous tapping!

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I'm not saying a word at the moment!

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By the way, thanks, everybody. I appreciate it.

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Sorry if I'm angering anybody by being a BLEEP or whatever!

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It's becoming apparent that Gabriel is an unusual sort of patient.

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It turns out he helps build space rockets!

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Really!

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Gabriel is a mate of mine from Oxford.

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He studies robotics down in Oxford.

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And he came over from the US

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and he's a bit of an outdoor sports nut-head, basically!

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He's a bright bloke. He worked for NASA as well! He's a bright guy, a character!

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When not designing lunar buggies,

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Gabriel also does some international down-hill skiing.

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But today, simply riding a bike downhill has gone very wrong.

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I found out he was quite badly,

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so I called the ambulance.

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Tried to find the best reference I could.

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We just kept him calm and cool and he's done really well.

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By the way, mate, well done. Thank you for calling for us.

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-Well done.

-What's your name?

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-I'm Sammy.

-Thank you.

-You're welcome.

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It's so steep. It's really quick down here.

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Then you hit this and he just basically took off.

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There's too much speed and he just launched it.

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He landed on his head.

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There's bits of the helmet scattered over here.

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Look at this, pieces of his helmet.

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If he didn't have his helmet on...

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Over. The bike's all right.

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Apart from the front wheel.

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Have some more gas, Gabriel. That's it.

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Cycle helmets are really solid.

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For Gabriel's to have broken into pieces on impact

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means it's been a huge smash.

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Do you want more gas?

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Even with morphine, Gabriel's pain is getting worse.

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I'll take it if it'll pipe me down.

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It'll make you feel more comfortable. That's it.

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Without an x-ray, it's impossible to see the damage he's done.

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He could have a serious neck or back injury.

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One thing's certain. They need to move him from here and on to hospital as quickly as possible.

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Coming up: the cyclist who launched himself into space

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is prepared for another takeoff.

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Fire-fighters fear an explosion as the operation to free a pilot's wife reaches its climax.

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And new paramedic Kate meets a man whose DIY hobby cost him his fingers.

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The worst-case scenario is they'll amputate them.

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Starting a new life in a rural area sounds great.

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But sometimes, a room with a view of the countryside

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can also have a main road at the front door.

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And that can have its dangers.

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Moving into a new house

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can be one of the most stressful things you'll ever do,

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especially if you're doing the renovations yourself.

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Jacqueline Simpson bought this cottage near Thirsk, north Yorkshire, last year

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and spends all her time doing it up.

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And then this happens.

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A lorry has careered into the side of Jacqueline's new home.

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She's still inside, and the driver's injured.

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'There is now a responder on scene

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'and it transpires there's a patient with a hand injury'

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and they're trapped and also unconscious.

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The fire crews are worried.

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The impact of the crash may mean that the wall of Jacqueline's house has become unstable.

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They make a decision to get the driver out of his cab quickly.

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We first tried to get him out through the driver's door.

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But we realised because of his injuries, that wasn't a practical thing to do.

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So the obvious thing to do was remove the front windscreen,

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which we cut out with a saw, then it was easy to access him through the window.

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The destruction is visible from 500 feet.

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I can roughly do that landing site.

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There are big wires there.

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We're going in on the road, yeah?

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Yeah, we'll go on the road. There's a set of wires across.

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I'll approach over the top of that.

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With police roadblocks halting the traffic,

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the narrow road outside Jacqueline's house

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makes the perfect helipad.

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OK.

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The van driver, David Burton, is a local landscape gardener.

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Flying paramedic Pete Vallance knows he's in a critical condition.

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The fact that you've got out of that wagon that's on its side into a building.

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We have to take it for granted you may have hurt your back.

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The fire crew that rescued David now need to hold him down

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to protect his spine.

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His head injury has left him confused

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and he's trying to stand up.

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-I want to stand up.

-No, you have to lie down.

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Dave, can you put your legs down?

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All right.

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The paramedics know that what's happening inside David's head

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can be more worrying than the cuts and bruises they can see.

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We don't believe he's been unconscious, but he's got lower back pain.

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It doesn't appear to be as severe as we initially thought

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but looking at the wreckage,

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the possibility of other injuries that are hidden at the moment

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are possible.

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Jacqueline is still inside, being comforted by friends.

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Quite a high impact involved in the smash.

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He's extremely lucky to get out of it the way he has done.

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Quick thinking and team work by the emergency services

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means that Dave is now ready for his flight to hospital.

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He'll be taken to the specialist neurological team at Leeds General Infirmary.

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Back at the scene of the accident,

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Jacqueline is still in shock. She was hanging curtains in the living room

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when the lorry came hurtling towards her.

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I was standing at that window, removing the newspaper

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to allow the sunshine to come through

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to dry this damp-proofing and plastering.

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I've been here just three months. I haven't even unpacked yet.

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A huge, huge bang

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and instinctively I ran away and I realised there was an accident.

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I still feel terribly shocked.

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I can hardly believe this has happened.

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But it is a lucky escape.

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'Helimed 98 Delta. Clear the ATZ to the north.'

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Jacqueline may have escaped serious injury,

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but the same can't be said for David.

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Helimed 98 is half-way into the 15-minute journey to Leeds General Infirmary

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and there's increasing concern for his condition.

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Head injuries are one of the hardest conditions to treat out of hospital.

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Without a scan, they can't know whether David has suffered one of the most serious head injuries,

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a haematoma.

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If there is bleeding inside his skull

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it could be putting pressure on his brain

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and that can be fatal.

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DAVID CALLS OUT IN PAIN

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-Ooh, that hurt!

-Sorry about that.

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-Where did that hurt?

-Just in me back.

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David has gone from mangled wreckage to specialist trauma hospital

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in less than one hour.

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But he faces an anxious wait to find out if his injuries are as serious as they appear.

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A few weeks later, and David's back home, but not back to normal.

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Fortunately, his head injury wasn't serious, but the scans and x-rays picked up something else.

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He's broken his back.

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I've got a big scar at the back of my head.

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Apparently I've broken my back in one place.

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In the middle. I think it's 12. C12 or something.

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I've broken my back and I've got to wear one of these...

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..for another two or three weeks, if not longer.

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It is upsetting because I was hoping to be able to work till I was 70.

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But whether I'll be able to drive

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or whether I'll be able to work or take notes, I don't know.

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And there's another twist in this story.

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David actually owns the field next to Jacqueline's house.

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The previous owner sold the field to me and my partner

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and we bought the field at the back, about three acres.

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But there's a good reason why David didn't buy the cottage.

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It's too close to the road, for a start!

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I've seen too many vehicles go into the front of it!

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That's little comfort for Jacqueline.

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But she remains determined to live in Bridge House.

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There's lots to do and it'll be a few more months before her new house is finished.

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But she's still managing to look on the bright side.

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Things could have been for somebody an awful lot worse.

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But it wasn't, and so I'm very grateful for that.

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It's the cosmetic side of things now.

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I'm looking forward immensely to unpacking my things,

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buying some furniture,

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and decorating, and just creating a home for myself, really.

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I'd be deeply unhappy if anything like this happened again.

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But I suppose it's possible.

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Coming up: a NASA scientist heads for touchdown in the NHS.

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He's in a lot of pain with his back.

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And there are testing times for the new recruits fighting to become flying medics.

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Let's get back to the Yorkshire Wolds

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where a pilot's wife is trapped in the wreckage of her husband's light plane.

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The crew of Helimed 99 had to wait to top up their tanks

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before they could scramble to an air crash at a remote airfield on top of the Yorkshire Wolds.

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East of Norton-on-Derwent. Find Norton-on-Derwent, which is here.

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Now paramedics Ben and Tony are helping fire-fighters

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struggling with the complicated extrication of the pilot's wife, Denise Lee.

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My colleague will slap you on some morphine now.

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Proper stuff, Denise.

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She broke both bones in her left leg

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after the family light plane left the runway, crashed through a hedge,

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and hit a fence during a difficult landing.

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OK. We've got a female, obviously she's crashed in a light aircraft.

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Age 49 years.

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She has some lacerations to her head and a fractured tib and fib.

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We're going to Scarborough, ETA possibly 20 to 25 minutes

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but I'll update you nearer the time. Over.

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It's the fuel leaking from the wrecked Robin light aircraft

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that's worrying the fire brigade.

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One spark could cause a devastating explosion.

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Tony knows there's no time to waste.

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His patient needs urgent hospital treatment.

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We'll have to be careful how we're extricating her.

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The ideal way is to get her straight back

0:20:000:20:02

but she's vertically upright so we can't get the board in.

0:20:020:20:05

We've got a vice on her but it's not fitted properly cos we can't get to her legs.

0:20:050:20:10

Just maintaining security of the C-spine

0:20:100:20:12

in case she's got any neck or back injuries.

0:20:120:20:16

But we can't secure it round her legs properly.

0:20:160:20:19

We're worried if we pull her from a vertical position it's gonna come off.

0:20:190:20:23

We're gonna lean her on her side and hope the legs follow.

0:20:230:20:26

But she's got definite fractures, so we have to be careful.

0:20:260:20:29

Will that board come in any more?

0:20:290:20:31

We need a few hefty people round this side that can lift well.

0:20:360:20:41

Are you a good lifter?

0:20:410:20:43

We're only ever gonna move at six inches at a time.

0:20:430:20:46

Denise's husband Brian is doing his best not to show his feelings.

0:20:460:20:50

He's trying to comfort his wife as the operation to free her enters its final phase.

0:20:500:20:56

Sorry about this, sweetie. Ready, steady, lift.

0:20:560:20:59

DENISE CRIES OUT

0:20:590:21:01

Quite a smooth extrication at the end of the day.

0:21:040:21:07

We'll get her on the aircraft, give her some more pain relief

0:21:070:21:10

and reassess her injuries.

0:21:100:21:13

Light aircraft don't have the crash protection motorists enjoy.

0:21:130:21:17

No airbags or crumple zones.

0:21:170:21:19

The team think the rudder pedals on which Denise's feet were resting

0:21:190:21:23

may be responsible for her broken bones.

0:21:230:21:26

But they can't rule out even more serious injuries.

0:21:300:21:33

Coming up: Denise reaches hospital, but are her flying days over?

0:21:380:21:43

And the team's new paramedics learn how to become fire-fighters as their training continues.

0:21:440:21:50

If you hurt yourself in America,

0:21:550:21:57

the first question they'll ask you in hospital is your credit card number.

0:21:570:22:02

Up in north Yorkshire, one patient from the States

0:22:020:22:05

is about to find out about free health care

0:22:050:22:07

on the NHS.

0:22:070:22:10

Helimed 99 has landed at a mountain bike track

0:22:110:22:14

in the Dalby Forest in north Yorkshire.

0:22:140:22:17

Their patient is Gabriel Sibley from Colorado.

0:22:170:22:20

He's a robotics scientist who's worked for NASA.

0:22:210:22:24

But he came to earth with a bang when his mountain bike launched him into space.

0:22:240:22:28

Paramedics Pat and Sammy are unsure of his injuries

0:22:280:22:32

but he's in great pain.

0:22:320:22:34

Gabriel, I want you to put this arm up there.

0:22:340:22:37

OK. Same with that one.

0:22:370:22:39

-Aghh! I can't!

-OK.

0:22:390:22:41

Aghh!

0:22:410:22:42

I can't move that arm. It hurts too much.

0:22:420:22:45

Where does it hurt? In the wrist? Elbow? Shoulder?

0:22:450:22:48

-In the ribs in the back.

-OK.

0:22:480:22:50

They have to assume the worst - spinal damage.

0:22:500:22:54

They need to move him onto a rigid board to protect his back.

0:22:540:22:57

You can see the problem on that right shoulder.

0:22:570:23:00

The chopper landed in a field 200 metres from the cycle track.

0:23:020:23:05

If he's got a spinal injury, they need to carry him smoothly over the rough terrain.

0:23:050:23:11

Fortunately, all his extreme sportsmen mates are on hand to help out.

0:23:130:23:18

Welcome aboard.

0:23:180:23:20

Do you remember the accident at all, Gabriel?

0:23:200:23:22

I did one lap, and then I went again

0:23:220:23:25

and I guess on the first jump I went too far.

0:23:250:23:28

-Do you remember falling and being on the floor?

-No.

0:23:280:23:31

-Is there some black areas?

-I remember right before I hit

0:23:310:23:34

then it's black.

0:23:340:23:36

Gabriel can see that there are problems with his hands and finger.

0:23:360:23:40

He has enough medical knowledge of his own to realise the symptoms

0:23:400:23:44

of a potential problem.

0:23:440:23:47

Can you just check that my left finger is too cold?

0:23:470:23:50

I mean, the blood circulation might... Left middle, I think.

0:23:500:23:55

-That one?

-It's really cold.

-That's the one that's deformed.

0:23:550:23:58

-It feels really cold.

-Yeah.

0:23:580:24:00

Pilot Steve gets the helicopter on the way to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

0:24:020:24:07

It's ten minutes across the North York Moors.

0:24:070:24:10

Pat's worried about Gabriel,

0:24:110:24:14

particular the injuries he can't see.

0:24:140:24:17

At the moment, he's stable. He's taken a big fall at speed,

0:24:170:24:21

landing on his head and back.

0:24:210:24:23

We believe he's broken both his wrists

0:24:230:24:27

and sustained internal injuries we can't see.

0:24:270:24:30

We want to get him to hospital, get him checked out.

0:24:300:24:33

But my main concern is his back.

0:24:330:24:36

Once they land in Middlesbrough,

0:24:360:24:38

it's a short push from the helicopter to the only person

0:24:380:24:41

who can diagnose Gabriel's injuries.

0:24:410:24:44

A trauma consultant armed with x-rays.

0:24:440:24:47

Gabriel's just grateful he's here.

0:24:470:24:50

Some of the world's most gifted scientists work at Oxford University.

0:24:550:25:00

The academics' choice of transport is the pushbike.

0:25:000:25:04

But not Gabriel. At least, not yet.

0:25:050:25:07

This is a CT scan of the head, looking for head injuries.

0:25:070:25:11

It's been a few weeks since his accident.

0:25:110:25:14

He's back at work and analysing data -

0:25:140:25:17

his own battered body!

0:25:170:25:19

I broke number four and number five metacarpals,

0:25:190:25:21

a compound fracture. It came out right here.

0:25:210:25:24

The break in number four started at the head of a pin

0:25:240:25:29

from a previous break when I was 16. There's seven pins in there.

0:25:290:25:33

I really bruised the inside of my upper right torso here.

0:25:330:25:37

And my back. That's what I was most worried about.

0:25:370:25:40

That hurt way more than my hands hurt.

0:25:400:25:42

I could see the bones coming out and that's what hurt me.

0:25:420:25:46

Ow! Ow! Ow!

0:25:460:25:48

Ow! Ow!

0:25:480:25:50

Ow!

0:25:500:25:52

Listening to it, really more than seeing it,

0:25:520:25:54

you can hear the sound of the pain. Yeah.

0:25:540:25:58

Have some more gas for me. Good lad.

0:25:580:26:01

Slightly relax your arms. We'll put a blanket underneath.

0:26:010:26:04

To make such a simple error as to go too fast over a big jump

0:26:050:26:09

is not something I would do. I've never done that.

0:26:090:26:12

I've been hitting jumps for a long, long time.

0:26:120:26:15

So, yeah, definitely, it shook me up.

0:26:150:26:18

In the USA, Gabriel says the care that he has had

0:26:180:26:22

would have cost many thousands of pounds and he's very grateful.

0:26:220:26:26

But there is one piece of kit that didn't cost a lot.

0:26:260:26:30

And he owes it his life.

0:26:300:26:32

I still have a bump on my forehead. I think it'll go.

0:26:320:26:35

Yeah. If it wasn't for that helmet, I don't think I'd be here.

0:26:350:26:40

Coming up: A pilot's wife finally reaches hospital.

0:26:450:26:48

But has she really escaped a plane crash with just a broken leg?

0:26:480:26:52

Being a paramedic on the road takes special skills.

0:26:580:27:00

You have to be able to think quickly and clearly

0:27:000:27:03

when everyone else is panicking.

0:27:030:27:05

And you have to master complex medical procedures.

0:27:050:27:08

Imagine trying to find someone who can do all that

0:27:080:27:11

in one of these!

0:27:110:27:13

Everyone who's ever been in the emergency services

0:27:140:27:17

will tell you that despite all the training,

0:27:170:27:20

driving on blue lights gives you a buzz like no other.

0:27:200:27:23

Add to that the job satisfaction that comes with saving someone's life,

0:27:230:27:27

and you can understand why there's no shortage of people wanting to be paramedics.

0:27:270:27:32

But today, more than 30 ambulance staff

0:27:320:27:35

want to give all that up for a place in a cockpit.

0:27:350:27:39

There are job vacancies at the Helimed team.

0:27:390:27:41

And the competition is fierce.

0:27:410:27:44

'A lot of nervous people wandering about the unit today.'

0:27:440:27:47

Some of them have been waiting up to two years for today.

0:27:470:27:51

First, they've got to pass an exam and a tough interview.

0:27:510:27:56

Every job interview is stressful.

0:27:560:27:58

But the candidates for the Helimed job know that today

0:27:580:28:01

they're up against the cream of the ambulance service.

0:28:010:28:05

I've been on a couple of jobs when they've come in and conveyed patients.

0:28:050:28:09

It's something that I've always thought, "That looks good. I'd like to do that."

0:28:090:28:14

Outdoor enthusiast Al Day is one of the first to face the interview panel.

0:28:140:28:19

I think once I got over the initial nerves of it,

0:28:190:28:23

and I started to get going, it wasn't actually too bad.

0:28:230:28:27

I've been in mountain rescue for a long, long time as a volunteer

0:28:270:28:31

so I've always been interested in rescues and that kind of thing.

0:28:310:28:35

Just a perfect job.

0:28:350:28:37

Kate Coughlin's already flown as an observer on the chopper.

0:28:370:28:41

She comes highly qualified.

0:28:410:28:43

As well as being a paramedic,

0:28:430:28:44

she did three years as an airline flight attendant.

0:28:440:28:48

I did a day out with Simon and Paul about three years ago.

0:28:480:28:52

It was a great experience.

0:28:520:28:54

I'm down to the last stage, so fingers crossed!

0:28:540:28:57

And there's good news for both Al and Kate.

0:28:590:29:01

They've beaten off all the other candidates

0:29:010:29:04

to take a coveted seat in one of their Helimed helicopters.

0:29:040:29:07

But there's little time to celebrate.

0:29:070:29:10

There's a lot for our new recruits to learn.

0:29:100:29:13

So, where to now for our successful candidates?

0:29:130:29:17

Well, it's not up in this just yet. First stop, it's back to school.

0:29:170:29:22

At an airbase in Gloucestershire, it's a big day for the successful recruits.

0:29:230:29:27

Their first day as trainee air crew.

0:29:270:29:30

The Earth is divided into parallels and latitude.

0:29:320:29:37

It takes years to become an experienced aviator.

0:29:370:29:40

But these guys have got only two weeks before their first shift.

0:29:400:29:44

No pressure there, then!

0:29:440:29:46

Cumulus, that's a little layer of fluffy cloud.

0:29:460:29:50

Can bring rain occasionally.

0:29:500:29:52

-Strato-cumulus.

-That's layers of fluffy bits.

-Layers of fluffy bits.

0:29:520:29:57

I don't know my stratus Columbus from my cumulus nimbus!

0:29:570:30:01

Right!

0:30:010:30:03

Hmm. Not sure they've quite grasped the weather charts just yet!

0:30:030:30:07

Let's see if they're any better at dealing with an aircraft that's on fire.

0:30:070:30:11

Helicopters can and do have accidents.

0:30:110:30:14

With a 1,000-litre fuel tank,

0:30:140:30:17

a fire on board is a real risk.

0:30:170:30:19

If that happens, they need to be ready to deal with it.

0:30:190:30:22

Beautiful.

0:30:230:30:25

So, they've got the jobs, done the basic training,

0:30:250:30:28

but the real hard work starts here for the Helimed team's fledgling aviators.

0:30:280:30:33

They've got four weeks to learn the basics of navigating the skies

0:30:330:30:37

the hard way.

0:30:370:30:38

With just a few days to go before they start their new job for real,

0:30:390:30:43

some of the more experienced members of the Helimed team

0:30:430:30:46

are about to put the new recruits through their paces.

0:30:460:30:49

The biggest problem is when you go off the aviation maps onto the local area OS maps

0:30:490:30:54

and suddenly you're covering the ground

0:30:540:30:56

ten times faster.

0:30:560:30:58

It's very hard to go from one to the other quickly.

0:30:580:31:00

You shoot past where you're going

0:31:000:31:03

and then you're lost and it's hard to get back onto it.

0:31:030:31:07

If the weather's bad and they're working hard and we have a pilot from out of the region,

0:31:070:31:12

then it's a team effort.

0:31:120:31:15

Trying to get from A to B quickly, they need to know their map skills.

0:31:150:31:19

Heading?

0:31:190:31:21

A rough heading...

0:31:210:31:23

about two-nine-zero.

0:31:240:31:27

New recruit Kate Atkinson

0:31:270:31:29

is in the co-pilot's seat.

0:31:290:31:31

She's used to navigating around the streets of Wakefield, west Yorkshire.

0:31:310:31:35

Now she's plotting routes across parts of the country she's never seen before.

0:31:350:31:40

As long as we keep that railway on our right-hand side...

0:31:410:31:44

-Left-hand side!

-Left-hand side! I did point left!

0:31:440:31:47

With just a few small mistakes,

0:31:490:31:52

Kate, along with the other new flying paramedics, successfully make it through their training.

0:31:520:31:58

Now it's time for the true test for our new paramedics,

0:31:580:32:01

when a job comes in for real.

0:32:010:32:04

Malham Tarn's dead ahead, into Pen-y-Ghent.

0:32:050:32:08

One o'clock, just behind it.

0:32:080:32:10

Whernside's off to our... Well, two o'clock. 12 o'clock, probably.

0:32:100:32:16

Yeah.

0:32:160:32:17

When an emergency call comes in that someone is suffering chest pains

0:32:170:32:21

on top of Pen-y-Ghent, one of the highest hills in Yorkshire,

0:32:210:32:24

Helimed 99 is immediately dispatched.

0:32:240:32:27

The patient could be having a heart attack

0:32:270:32:30

and is in a dangerously remote location.

0:32:300:32:32

For new paramedic Al, this is familiar terrain.

0:32:320:32:35

For years he's been a volunteer member of the mountain rescue team.

0:32:350:32:39

But from the air, things can be a little disorientating at first.

0:32:390:32:44

A solitary person looks like he may be signalling to us at about four o'clock.

0:32:440:32:49

On the ridgeline. Sorry, not four o'clock. Eight o'clock.

0:32:490:32:55

Identifying one person in a vast landscape

0:32:560:32:59

when all you have is a rough grid reference can be tricky.

0:32:590:33:03

Everyone on board has a role to play in identifying the casualty.

0:33:030:33:06

Once located, they then have to find somewhere safe to land,

0:33:060:33:10

all the while knowing that the clock could be ticking for the patient.

0:33:100:33:14

-Nearly there.

-It looks very wet, though, Steve.

0:33:140:33:18

Come left, it looks drier. Can you see?

0:33:180:33:21

-Is it black?

-Yeah, it is.

0:33:210:33:23

Coming left about ten.

0:33:230:33:25

Keep coming. Tail looks clear.

0:33:250:33:28

57-year-old Stefan Yanecki was hiking with friends on Pen-y-Ghent

0:33:280:33:32

when things started to go badly wrong.

0:33:320:33:35

Hello there, sir. How are you feeling?

0:33:350:33:38

Rough? Tell me what's happened.

0:33:390:33:41

You've got some pain, have you?

0:33:440:33:46

In your chest?

0:33:460:33:47

-Me legs have gone.

-Right.

0:33:470:33:49

-Have you still got pain in your chest?

-It's aching a bit.

0:33:490:33:52

-Anywhere else?

-No.

0:33:520:33:54

This may be Al's first job on the air ambulance,

0:33:540:33:57

but he's had to deal with dozens of injured and unwell walkers in his time,

0:33:570:34:01

both as a paramedic and as a member of the mountain rescue team.

0:34:010:34:05

For now, it's important to establish whether Stefan could be critically ill

0:34:050:34:10

by giving him an ECG to see if he's having a heart attack.

0:34:100:34:13

I just need to have a feel of your chest, Stefan,

0:34:140:34:18

to get these in the right place, OK?

0:34:180:34:20

We were just out for a walk

0:34:200:34:23

and we were coming down the hill

0:34:230:34:25

and he began to feel very unwell.

0:34:250:34:28

He was a bit dizzy earlier, but we thought it was just the steep hill.

0:34:280:34:33

Then we thought we probably need to go back and get him off.

0:34:330:34:39

But he couldn't make it so we sat him by the wall and called the ambulance.

0:34:390:34:43

Al's first job, he's doing absolutely fine. It's his home territory,

0:34:430:34:47

being part of the mountain rescue team.

0:34:470:34:50

Hopefully, he'll be showing me a few things!

0:34:500:34:53

The results of the ECG look good for Stefan,

0:34:540:34:56

but the paramedics don't want to take any chances.

0:34:560:34:59

He needs to be checked over in hospital

0:34:590:35:01

and the fastest way to get him off the mountain is by helicopter.

0:35:010:35:05

We've got him on-board and he's got a bit of pain.

0:35:050:35:08

We'll give him some morphine to make him more comfortable for the trip.

0:35:080:35:13

It's only a short hop to Blackburn, about seven or eight minutes away.

0:35:130:35:19

Cardiac patients, we like to keep 'em comfortable.

0:35:200:35:24

Minutes later, they're airborne.

0:35:240:35:27

Stefan is now on his way from the top of one of Yorkshire's highest peaks

0:35:270:35:31

to the care of a fully-equipped hospital.

0:35:310:35:33

He seems to be doing OK. His pain is easier than it was

0:35:330:35:36

when we first arrived.

0:35:360:35:38

Some of the medication we've given him seems to be taking effect.

0:35:380:35:42

He's fairly comfortable at the moment.

0:35:420:35:45

So a short trip to hospital

0:35:450:35:48

and we'll be able to deliver him into some definitive care.

0:35:480:35:52

This has been Al's first job flying with the air ambulance.

0:35:520:35:56

But it won't be his last.

0:35:560:35:58

It may be Day One, but he's already making a difference.

0:35:580:36:02

So is paramedic Kate.

0:36:020:36:05

Helimed 99 is on its way to help a man who's cut off four fingers with a circular saw.

0:36:050:36:10

Kate has dealt with all sorts of injuries in eight years with the ambulance service.

0:36:100:36:15

But nothing like this.

0:36:150:36:17

I had a chap that had impaled a meat hook into his hand

0:36:180:36:23

but I've never actually had someone's fingers amputated.

0:36:230:36:26

So it's all new.

0:36:260:36:29

If there's anything they can do with the fingers, time's critical.

0:36:290:36:33

Just have to see when we get there how much damage has been done.

0:36:330:36:37

This is the third case in as many months

0:36:370:36:40

where someone has chopped off fingers or a hand

0:36:400:36:43

and the Yorkshire air ambulance has been called to help.

0:36:430:36:46

It's thought that over 15,000 people are injured by saws every year.

0:36:460:36:51

But this case is especially serious.

0:36:510:36:54

He's been chopping wood on a rotary saw.

0:36:540:36:56

The fingers have gone into it.

0:36:560:36:58

The forefinger is as good as amputated, held on with skin.

0:36:580:37:04

He's nicked the middle finger.

0:37:040:37:06

That finger's all but off, just held on by a little flap.

0:37:060:37:09

-And the little finger's all but amputated as well.

-OK.

-And his thumb.

0:37:090:37:13

The crew from the land ambulance have already given immediate first aid.

0:37:130:37:18

But they've called in the helicopter because the quicker their patient gets to hospital,

0:37:180:37:23

the better the chances of saving his fingers.

0:37:230:37:26

Inside the house, Kate meets some of her colleagues from her days on the road.

0:37:260:37:31

You wanted to find me something, didn't you?

0:37:310:37:33

-Now, then.

-This is George.

0:37:330:37:37

63-year-old George Chapman seems remarkably relaxed

0:37:370:37:40

considering he's just sliced off four of his fingers!

0:37:400:37:44

His hand has been tightly bound to prevent any further blood loss

0:37:440:37:47

or damage to the fingers.

0:37:470:37:49

But astonishingly, George has refused any pain killers.

0:37:490:37:53

Kate, I'll get aircraft ready.

0:37:530:37:55

That's it. You're with us.

0:37:550:37:58

I'm gonna get you to sign I've handed over to you.

0:37:580:38:00

Just in case there's any comeback! Thanks, Kath!

0:38:000:38:04

You might get there and his whole arm will be missing!

0:38:040:38:07

It wasn't like that when I left him.

0:38:070:38:09

Now the crew must see if they can get permission to fly George to a specialist centre

0:38:090:38:14

where plastic surgeons can attempt to stitch his fingers back on.

0:38:140:38:18

The digits are off, so he needs them putting back on.

0:38:180:38:21

We need to get him to somewhere as quick as we can.

0:38:210:38:24

I'm getting confirmation of whether we go to Leeds or York.

0:38:240:38:28

George continues to astonish the crew

0:38:280:38:30

by walking to the helicopter and joking with a neighbour on the way.

0:38:300:38:34

Still without any pain relief!

0:38:340:38:36

Just had an accident! Val will let you know about it.

0:38:360:38:42

It's a short journey to fly George to the Leeds Infirmary

0:38:420:38:45

where plastic surgeons are standing by

0:38:450:38:48

to try and re-attach his fingers.

0:38:480:38:50

He's been given the best possible chance

0:38:500:38:53

but there are no guarantees.

0:38:530:38:55

Well, it depends how much damage has been done

0:38:550:38:58

as to whether they can get the circulation going again and the use of his fingers.

0:38:580:39:03

The worst-case scenario is they'll just amputate them.

0:39:030:39:06

For new paramedic Kate, her first week has been a baptism of fire.

0:39:060:39:11

There will be plenty more like this to come.

0:39:110:39:14

As a member of the Yorkshire air ambulance team,

0:39:140:39:16

she will deal with serious injury or major trauma on a daily basis.

0:39:160:39:21

I'm pleased to say all our new recruits made the grade

0:39:210:39:24

and are now ready to fly on life-saving missions unsupervised.

0:39:240:39:28

Now let's join one of them, Ben Anderson, at work

0:39:280:39:31

at a plane crash in east Yorkshire.

0:39:310:39:33

Ben's been caring for pilot's wife Denise Lee for more than half an hour

0:39:350:39:40

and reassuring her that her injuries could have been a lot worse.

0:39:400:39:44

In my opinion, it looks a lot worse than it is.

0:39:440:39:47

It's a scalp injury that's bleeding everywhere.

0:39:470:39:51

-If you look in the aircraft, you're lucky to be alive.

-I know.

0:39:510:39:54

Ben took several flying lessons before fatherhood got in the way.

0:39:540:39:58

He knows weekend fliers are among the air ambulance's biggest supporters.

0:39:580:40:03

The Helimed call sign is well known to anyone listening to air traffic control.

0:40:030:40:08

But it turns out Denise's support for the air ambulance goes a lot further than most.

0:40:080:40:13

She's been selling charity raffle tickets for them.

0:40:130:40:17

-We'd best look after you, then!

-I've got £1,000 of tickets to sell!

0:40:170:40:21

OK. We have a vested financial interest in looking after you!

0:40:210:40:26

It's less than an hour since Denise took off from the runway at Eddsfield.

0:40:280:40:32

Now she's airborne again,

0:40:320:40:35

this time for the short flight to Scarborough Hospital

0:40:350:40:38

where her injuries will be thoroughly checked out.

0:40:380:40:41

OK. A mast at 12 o'clock.

0:40:430:40:45

The crash team is waiting to examine Denise and x-ray her back.

0:40:480:40:52

Only half the people who experience an air crash survive.

0:40:530:40:56

So Denise has already beaten the odds.

0:40:560:40:59

The next 24 hours will reveal whether she's really been fortunate enough

0:41:000:41:05

to escape with just a broken leg and cuts.

0:41:050:41:07

Just three weeks later,

0:41:120:41:14

and in the picturesque village of Egton Bridge near Whitby,

0:41:140:41:17

Denise is recovering at home with husband Brian.

0:41:170:41:21

She knows she's lucky to be alive, and so does he.

0:41:210:41:24

It happens in a split second. I'd made the decision

0:41:240:41:27

that the speedo was going and if I kicked it to left or right

0:41:270:41:31

I may have turned it over and we'd have been upside-down.

0:41:310:41:36

I'd said to Denise, "We won't make it."

0:41:360:41:39

You see the hedge coming up, you tuck your elbows in and put your head down

0:41:390:41:43

and hope for the best!

0:41:430:41:45

And I came away quite lightly.

0:41:450:41:48

It was Denise that was injured. I just scratched a finger.

0:41:480:41:52

But it's better now. Don't worry!

0:41:520:41:54

All I remember is the hedge tree stumps coming through,

0:41:550:42:00

the glass coming through and...

0:42:000:42:03

I just covered my face. That was it.

0:42:030:42:06

Then everybody running around being very nice and you know.

0:42:060:42:11

Amazingly, the crash hasn't put them off flying.

0:42:110:42:14

Denise is studying for her pilot's licence

0:42:140:42:17

and is determined to carry on when her leg heals.

0:42:170:42:20

When Helicopter Heroes comes back,

0:42:240:42:26

a police spy in the sky swoops on the National Park's bikers.

0:42:260:42:31

But too late to prevent a serious accident.

0:42:310:42:33

I smacked straight into him. All I could see was an explosion of bike bits.

0:42:330:42:38

There's a road smash and the Helimed team are scrambled.

0:42:390:42:42

His finger's gone as well.

0:42:420:42:44

High in the Pennines, a paraglider crashes

0:42:460:42:49

and needs a life-saving flight to hospital.

0:42:490:42:52

He was on a paraglider and come in to land.

0:42:520:42:55

And the show-jumpers riding for a fall.

0:42:550:42:58

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:120:43:15

There is a plane crash on a rural airfield, a rocket scientist crashes to earth in a bike accident and a new homeowner has an overturned van come through her front window.


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