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If you're seriously ill or critically injured, every second counts.
Especially if you're up high or off the beaten track.
But, thanks to these guys, the people of the UK's biggest county
are never more than ten minutes away from a hospital.
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance can do 150 miles an hour
and every day brings a new life-or-death emergency.
Five million people depend on these yellow helicopters to bring life-saving care from the skies.
When a multiple pile-up closes Britain's highest motorway,
or there's a serious accident on the shop floor,
the highly trained paramedics and pilots of the Helimed team are there to rescue the casualties.
Today, on Helicopter Heroes.
There's a terrible coincidence as a paramedic finds himself fighting to save the life of a friend.
He's a good friend. He's also a local firefighter.
A mountain biker loses her front teeth, but Dr Andy is determined to save her smile.
How does your jawbone feel?
A five-month-old baby is overcome by the hot sun.
When you phone 999, you expect an ambulance.
But what will really save your life
is the knowledge of the guys in the vehicle.
That's why more and more emergencies are being answered
by rapid response vehicles.
A car, plus paramedic, and an awful lot of know-how.
At Helimed headquarters, the crew are on best behaviour today.
The boss is on duty.
Dr Alison Walker is the Medical Director of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service,
responsible for supervising the work of nearly 4,000 staff.
But she also likes to keep her medical skills up to scratch.
And it's not long before she's airborne.
We're going to a road traffic collision near Rotherham,
where a pedestrian has been knocked down.
We've been called by one of the Rapid Response vehicle clinicians.
So it's likely that the patient has significant injuries.
Any further information at the moment...
'Roger 99. Update for you from control.
'It's not a pedestrian that's been knocked down.
'It's a motorcyclist that was travelling at unknown speed.
It's a small world and, on a road near Rotherham,
ground paramedic James Davis has just found out how small.
His patient turns out to be a mate, firefighter Alastair McCorrick
is badly injured after a bizarre bike accident.
I came over the brow over the hill to see the bike coming flying across me
and then I saw him rolling to a halt at the side of the kerb.
And then just flipped over. Then I called for the paramedics.
Alastair's critically ill.
He has severe internal injuries and several broken bones.
For ten minutes, James had to put aside his feelings and treat his friend like any other patient.
Now reinforcements have arrived, he's still cool, calm and professional.
Coming up the hill,
this guy has been driving this way and has just seen a motorbike fly straight down into them woods
in front of him at about 40 miles an hour. Nobody on it.
Alastair's just laid exactly where we've got him now.
No recollection of the incident, no recollection how fast he was going whatsoever.
After Alastair was thrown off, his riderless bike carried on without him.
Finally coming to a halt in undergrowth at the side of the road.
Hi, there. Can you hear me?
My name's Alison. I'm one of the doctors.
Can you remember anything about coming up to this accident?
No. I don't...
remember hitting the kerb.
Alastair also has a haemothorax.
This is where blood has leaked into the cavity between the lungs and the chest wall.
It usually means that one or both lungs collapse - and that can be fatal.
He desperately needs hospital care. Now.
Just want to try and move his arm.
-We're just going to touch you arm gently, OK?
But Alison's skills means one of the most important things he would find
in a trauma unit, a consultant's expertise, has come to him.
We're going to put something very tight around your hips. OK?
It might be a bit uncomfortable for a few seconds while we put it on.
Dr Alison knows Alastair's injuries could easily prove fatal.
She's seen injured riders like this before and she knows they can deteriorate quickly.
It's quick, clean and good for you.
But cycling can be dangerous if you come off.
And even wearing the right equipment won't always save you.
It's a hot Sunday in May and the Helimed team
is en route to the Derwent Reservoir, high in the Peak District.
-Head injury, unconscious 25-year-old male, wasn't it?
-Car versus cyclist.
Yes. It's down just where the clearing is.
There looks to be a... The road looks to be blocked.
Yeah, there's someone laying in road there.
The scene of the accident is surrounded by dense woodland.
The only choice is to land as close as possible.
Pilot Steve carefully lands the chopper on the bank of the reservoir.
Would you mind grabbing her head for me?
-What's your name?
My name's Andy. One of the doctors.
Clare Dumford is in a bad way.
She was cycling with her husband when a sudden gust of wind took her by surprise.
She set off down road on her bike coming down here.
Her hat's tried blowing off.
She's gone to grab it, she's gone over the handlebars.
It's about all I know at the minute.
Claire hit the tarmac face first.
The impact has knocked out two of her front teeth.
For Dr Andy, there's only one course of action.
Claire's teeth must be reinserted immediately.
This collar's coming on, Claire.
Open nice and wide for me.
I'm sorry. Just bear with me.
There we go. Well done.
Well done, Claire. OK?
Amazingly, the two front teeth are pushed back into their sockets.
How does your jawbone feel?
-Had you been having a good day out up until this, then?
-Only just set off.
-Have you? Oh, right.
The accident is blocking a busy road, but before Claire can be moved, she must be immobilised.
My neck hurts on my left side.
Have you ever had any morphine before or anything like that?
That's what we're going to give you.
Just pop a little needle into your arm.
With the helicopter still some distance away,
paramedic Glen has enlisted the help of the local park ranger.
For the park service, any sunny day is a busy day
but they will make time to transport Claire back to Helimed 99.
It's an exceptionally busy day. We're dealing with all sorts of things.
People in the water, accidents such as this and a number of minor accidents today as well.
Ready, steady, move.
She's certainly got lots of abrasions to her chest wall.
She's got wounds and injuries to her face
and she's knocked out her two front teeth.
She's complaining of pain down the left side of her neck.
Luckily, her teeth were found and we've put them back in
after giving them a clean, just to try to salvage the teeth.
Now the race is on to get Claire to hospital for essential testing.
Despite Dr Andy's efforts, there's no certainty that her teeth will re-root themselves.
Only time will tell if it's possible to save Claire's smile.
Everyone loves the sun, but you can have too much of a good thing.
Hot weather can be especially dangerous if you're very young or very old.
And if you're out in the country, it can be hard to escape it.
The Estate of Bolton Abbey lies in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.
The ruined 12th century priory is just one of the attractions on the 30,000 acres of land.
So when Helimed 99 gets a call about a baby girl who's having a fit
somewhere in the grounds of Bolton Abbey, the team knows it's going to be a difficult job to locate her.
Bolton Abbey, very scenic.
Aye. Do you know whereabouts?
-No idea, mate.
-Yeah. "In the woods at Bolton Abbey"
could be anywhere, couldn't it?
Then dispatcher Dave Gardner radios through with some extra details.
'Roger. I've had another talk with control.
'It sounds like they're definitely the other side
'of the stepping-stones opposite the abbey by the big field.
'The six-month-old has stopped fitting, but is struggling with its breathing, over.'
Roger. All received.
If someone having a fit isn't dealt with correctly, it can result in long-term damage or even death.
Prolonged fits can damage your brain,
so if somebody fits for a period of time,
certainly more than five to ten minutes, we'd be starting to get very concerned about them.
It's one of the first sunny days after a long hard winter and Bolton Abbey is packed with visitors.
-It must be on that prominence there.
-Yeah, there's people waving.
-You see the beach behind us at 4 o'clock?
There were people waving stuff at us just above the beach.
Eight-month-old Phoebe Kelly is being taken out for the day
by her Granny and Grandpa, when she suddenly started fitting.
She doesn't have a history of epilepsy and it's been a frightening experience for all three of them.
Hello. How are we doing?
Oh, there we are.
Tell me what's happened.
She just went limp, basically.
She was in my arms asleep, next thing we knew, she just stiffened up and started shaking.
-She was just staring.
It's quite common for kids of this age, it's what they call a febrile convulsion,
especially when they've been poorly. They can have a little fit.
And it's normally related to being too warm.
Her head has been very hot.
She's got a bit of a temperature, with her illness and probably being
out here in the sun as well, she's just got too warm
and basically your brain goes a little bit haywire for a minute.
It's not like epilepsy. It's just related to her temperature.
Phoebe has had a bit of a cold for the past few days,
but nothing serious enough to stop her going out.
Let me just do her temperature while we're waiting.
Let's bob this in your ear, chicken.
Oh! In your ear it goes.
Ooh. There we go. Nasty man's gone away now.
Yeah, she's red hot.
There we are. There we go.
She's really hot, that's the problem.
Thank you, everyone!
Phoebe's grandparents put her in a tent to stop her getting sunburnt,
but this hasn't protected her from the heat.
That's the thing, sometimes.
When you're in a tent, although you're not in the direct sun, it gets warmer.
The priority is now to get baby Phoebe's temperature down.
It's dead common for kids to have febrile convulsion.
It doesn't mean they're going to be epileptic or anything like that,
but it's an incredibly frightening experience for parents to see.
So, first time it happens, everybody's always really, really scared.
But hopefully she should be fine.
Just keep that on her face to keep her cool. That's all we're bothered about.
It's only a ten-minute flight to Harrogate Hospital and then Granny's mind can be put at rest.
When Phoebe gets there, she's checked out by paediatric specialists
and they confirm Al's diagnosis.
Back at home, Phoebe seems like a different child.
She's already forgotten that traumatic day.
But the rest of her family certainly haven't.
When I got the phone-call, it was just panicking.
The way that my mum had to tell me, with the helicopter in
the background and there was no reception,
I didn't really get a chance to hear the full story.
All I heard was A&E! That's the only word that I really heard.
Then you think, "Which A&E department, which child, which of my
"children is it, where do I go, what do I do, what's wrong with them?"
Just a whole load of emotions going through my head, really.
We could see the helicopter circling
and it was wonderful because the whole of Bolton Abbey
just sort of stood up and went like this,
as if to say, "Just get down here as soon as you can."
And as soon as they came, I knew it was
going to be a lot easier and at least
a professional could then take over.
Let's return to the roadside in Rotherham where the team's trying
to save a badly injured biker, who already owes his life to the prompt actions of one of his mates.
Alastair McCorrick was injured in a freak accident.
At the minute, we believe no other vehicles are involved.
He's come up this hill and, as far as we've been told, he's come off his bike.
We're still investigating. That's all I can tell you.
It looks like he's come off it somehow
and the bike's kept upright and gone in front of me.
Don't know how.
Alastair's a local firemen and the first paramedic on scene was James Davis, an old mate.
He's had a helmet on, he's got no C-spine pain, but he's got no recollection, obviously.
He's in the care of Dr Alison Walker, Medical Director of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service,
who's out for a day as a flying doctor.
We've got a pelvic splint on him now,
we'll move him onto the board and see how uncomfortable it is.
If it's very uncomfortable to move him,
we'll maybe give him a stronger painkiller than morphine.
Then we'll get him to the Northern General at Sheffield as soon as we can.
Alastair has a long catalogue of injuries.
So long, paramedic Sammy Wills has to read them off a note on her rubber glove.
Hello, Med 99. From head to toe -
fractured left humerus, chest - query haemothorax,
abdomen - guarding and tight, pelvis - query fractured.
SATs initially 89 and heart-rate 60.
ETA, I will contact you when we are back at the aircraft. Over!
He's had morphine which is a strong painkiller.
We've moved his broken arm back into a better position and we've given him a bit of fluid on scene.
James has been carefully monitoring his mate's condition.
There is one good sign, he's fully conscious, but not much else.
I'm really concerned about his pelvis.
He's got a significant abdominal injury which may be where the clutch lever went into his side.
He's got definite tension on the left side of his chest and possibly some blood in his chest.
He's a very young, fit bloke.
He's only 30. His observations currently tell us he's very fit.
The problem with very fit people is that they compensate
for a very long time and then they suddenly decompensate.
He's also possibly got either air and/or blood in his chest and there's
the possibility that the air becomes trapped and compresses the heart and lungs in the chest.
So we're watching out for that as well.
I'd just like to get him to hospital really quickly so they can give him a full MOT check of what's going on.
The team are frightened Alastair may have even more serious injuries,
He was thrown from his bike and could easily have damaged his back or spine.
-He'll be strapped down to prevent him hurting them further.
-The pain is still eight, Alison.
I initially got on the scene to him. As I approached him,
the eyes looking up from in the helmet
said, "Hello, James," which was quite surreal.
It's Alastair. He's a good friend - family friend.
He's also a local firefighter.
He works for Fire and Rescue at Mansfield Road in Sheffield.
We've worked a few road traffic accidents together in the past.
It's a little bit disconcerting initially when you find out it's someone you're quite close to.
You don't expect that. It kind of takes you by surprise.
I've quickly assessed his injuries, stabilised him, saw the seriousness of it,
and asked for these guys to fly in because he needs to be in a trauma centre soon.
He's perfect for Northern General, where we are.
Finally, Alastair's ready for his flight to hospital.
He's heading straight for intensive care, but these will be anxious hours
for his family and the friend who may just have saved his life.
It's happened a few times, but never so traumatic.
General illness before, but never such a trauma-related incident as this one's been.
Remember Claire, the cyclist who suffered a nasty facial injury when she came off her mountain bike?
Well, thanks to flying doctor Andy, she may come out of it smiling,
despite knocking out two of her teeth.
Ready, steady and lift!
Just wheel round so we're first.
Claire's about to begin the journey to Sheffield's Northern General Hospital
by hitching a lift in a park ranger's Land Rover.
It's a tight squeeze, but carrying her nearly half a mile
to Helimed 99 on foot would mean wasting valuable time.
It's a hot day and the lift back is very much appreciated.
Are you feeling OK, Claire?
-Quite a distance, isn't it? Did you jog all the way?
-Most of it.
We had a policeman turn up saying, "I've come to collect the doctor."
From the road, it's only a short distance to the helicopter.
With Claire's teeth re-inserted, there's still the possibility they will re-root.
It's the best way of kind of salvaging them. It may be that
they've been damaged
and they're not going to take,
but if you can get them back in
quickly, that gives them
the best chance possible.
A couple of deeps breath in again for me...and out.
Five minutes before we lift, Chris.
The flight to hospital will take just under ten minutes.
Helimed 99 will avoid the busy country roads and weekend traffic.
Although Claire had her teeth knocked out
and was very badly bruised, doctors at hospital discovered
she had not broken any bones or damaged her spine.
Back at home, just five days after the accident, her injuries look much worse than they actually are.
But she still doesn't know if her two front teeth had survived.
Dr Andy Pountney put them back in the root cavity very soon after the accident.
He sort of said, "Right, I'm going to put your teeth back in,
"because there's more chance of them surviving now
"if they go straight back in." I remember him washing them with saline
and then he said, "Right, this is going to hurt."
And then he put them in.
It were like somebody putting needles right up into the top of your nose, into your head.
You felt like they were going to explode out of your head. It was awful pain.
I've never had anything like it.
Claire's teeth are now being kept in position by a clear, plastic guard.
There's no guarantee they'll stay in place once the guard is removed.
It's everything - the facial bit,
I'm not bothered because I know I'll heal,
but the teeth are the most important.
It's the first thing you see when you see somebody.
To me, it were devastating.
When I was laid there in the middle of the road, my teeth were going through my mind.
I know it sounds daft, because I've got injuries everywhere,
but, to me, it were just my teeth.
Today is the moment of truth for Claire.
She'll find out if her two front teeth have re-rooted themselves or if they'll fall out.
Carefully, the maxillofacial surgeon removes the plastic guard.
It is in place, I can say that it is in place, and, er...
So, there's hope that it may take.
Claire's been lucky.
Although the teeth are a bit wobbly, they are still attached.
But for now, the protective guard will go back on.
It's still a bit mobile.
Just to give a little bit more protection
in the next couple of weeks. That's it.
When Claire came in today, what were her worst fears?
When he pulled that splint out, that my teeth had come out with it, yeah.
It sounds daft, but, yeah.
Just relieved really.
Helimed 99's taking off on a flight that could be an injured biker's only hope of survival.
A bizarre motorcycle accident near Rotherham has left a local firefighter, Alastair McCorrick,
with terrible injuries.
A trauma team is waiting at Sheffield Northern General Hospital to operate on Alastair.
His pelvis is shattered.
He has a serious stomach wound and his lungs are in danger of collapsing,
as blood leaks into his chest.
During the night, doctors tell his family he may not survive.
But they finally manage to stem the bleeding by removing his spleen.
-What does the sheep say?
Ten days later, Alastair's wife, Michelle, is doing her best to keep baby Sam happy without Daddy.
Her husband is still in intensive care.
They drained three-and-a-half litres of blood from his chest.
I think he had about 20 units of blood
through a transfusion,
which is a massive amount.
It's still not clear how the accident happened.
Alastair came off his bike and it carried on without him, finally crashing into undergrowth.
The first paramedic on the scene was a friend.
The accident has shocked the firefighters where Alastair works.
They're used to putting their feelings aside to help victims
of road accidents, but this is different.
That's why they're determined Alastair's going to come home to a garden makeover.
Alastair started redoing his back garden
just before his accident, and as far as he got was ripping things up.
Nothing was taken away and nothing put down.
The garden makeover is a welcome distraction for Michelle.
She knows her husband has a long and painful recovery ahead of him.
It's a month before Alastair's out of intensive care.
He's spent most of it unconscious, thanks to his extensive catalogue of injuries.
The top of my arm
was broken in two or three places.
The bottom of my arm was broken cleanly across once.
Most of my ribs on the left side have been fractured in two or three places, I believe.
My pelvis is broken in two, three, maybe four places.
Ruptured my spleen. That's now been removed.
I believe my left lung collapsed.
What else did I break?
I think that's about it.
Five weeks after the accident,
paramedic James Davies is visiting the mate whose life he helped save.
I just asked him to tell me his details.
He said to me, "It's me, you idiot."
Words to that effect, which completely threw me. I realised,
once I'd said, "What's your name?"
and he said, "It's Alastair McCorrick."
It was bizarre. It was the most surreal...
I knew from his breathing patterns, his respiratory rate, his colour that he was seriously injured.
I could tell. I knew, within a few minutes of having assessed him,
what we were dealing with. I knew it was life threatening.
All those thoughts raced through my mind.
Being a new father, being a young guy,
and knowing that it was critical.
He may never go home.
Suddenly, I'm facing having to keep him from going over the edge.
For the first time since the accident, Alastair's about to come face-to-face with his life saver.
-It's good to see you, mate.
-Oh, thank you.
-It's really good to see you.
My hero, Jamesie!
-Come to see his old pal.
-I can't believe it.
I feel great, mate. I feel good.
-Yeah. Have you been away?
-Where have you been?
Recovering after you.
-Mate, it was unbelievable.
Can you remember anything about it?
The first thing I can remember is seeing you.
Then I can remember being in an air ambulance, but I think it was still on the ground.
And I can't remember anything after that.
Are they going to operate on your pelvis, or is that going to do the job?
They're hoping this will do the job.
It will be a few more weeks before the two mates can go for a beer together
and Alastair can say thank you as he'd like.
It's fantastic to see James again.
I always intended, as soon as I got out, to go and see him anyway and give him a big kiss and cuddle.
I owe him so much.
He really did save my life. He was the first point of contact.
He got it all right.
It really was nice to see James again today.
One thing's for sure -
Alastair's biking days are behind him.
I'll never have a motorbike ever again.
And as far as I can help it, my son will never own one.
As soon as he's old enough, I will explain to him, in great
detail if I have to, exactly what happened to me and how close I came to not being his dad any more.
Both mates do jobs where showing your emotions isn't always helpful,
but James has a secret he hasn't told his friend.
I remember sitting on the bumper, just staring down at his clothes.
Obviously, there was blood on the road, the bike...
and I just went. I just went. I was sobbing for a good five minutes.
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