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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 150mph, 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... paramedics Lee and James
fight to save a critically ill member of their own team.
-Are you with us, mate?
The X-rays tell the story of a road accident that could have killed a teenager.
She's in a really awkward position on a cold surface.
And a couple on a motorbike have a miraculous escape.
I'm all right. Are you all right?
Hello - ambulance.
Nearly 2,000 paramedics can be dispatched at the touch of a button
from this room, but only one person can scramble the Air Ambulance.
Dispatcher Chris Solomons' day is difficult, demanding and life-saving.
You're going for a 21-year-old male that's fallen 40 foot. Four zero foot, over.
Roger, received. 40 foot fall, 21-year-old. 237816, over.
Without him, the Helimed team couldn't do their jobs.
Hundreds of people owe him their lives.
No problems, they're on their way.
-Cheers, love. Bye.
-But this morning, the 999 screens are blank.
It's Chris who needs help.
He's arrived for work with a pain in his chest.
Paramedic James Vine is concerned.
His symptoms are worrying enough, but the read-out on the cardiac monitor is unmistakable.
Chris is having a heart attack, and it's massive.
ECG looks dodgy at the moment.
Not 100% sure what it is, but we'll err on the side of caution,
and it should mean a trip down to LGI.
OK? Pop that up there for us.
Even in the 21st century, a simple aspirin is the most effective first aid for Chris.
It will help thin his blood.
They'd like him checked out at hospital, but it's so early, its helipad is not open.
-It's going to need to be the secondary site.
-What time do they open?
-Or are we best with a crew?
-I'll have a crew, please, mate.
A blood vessel in Chris's heart is blocked.
James can see that much from the trace, but it's about to get a lot worse.
-Get him on the floor.
-Yes, get him on the floor.
Chris goes into cardiac arrest.
His heart has stopped beating. He's no longer breathing.
If James and Lee don't start CPR in minutes, he will die.
The blow to Chris's chest
is designed to help kick-start his heart.
Lee and James know heart massage is only effective in a tiny minority of cases,
but their friend and colleague's life depends on it.
Can you ring 999 and get us a crew?
It's time for even the Helimed team to dial 999.
Can I have Air Ambulance, please, at Leeds Bradford Airport, the air ambulance base, please?
The chopper's defibrillator has been brought in.
It will deliver a massive electric shock to his heart.
It takes two jolts, but at last Chris's ailing heart starts to respond.
-All right, Chris. Come on, kid.
-Chris's colleagues are fighting to save his life.
He's in the best possible hands, but there's a serious problem.
Unless the fire crew that man the Leeds General Infirmary helipad can be contacted,
Chris's best chance of survival may be lost.
-Come on, Chris.
Are you with us, mate?
The school run means lots of traffic and hundreds of young pedestrians.
It's a combination that can lead to tragedy.
And one morning in South Yorkshire, the Helimed team receive the kind of call that the paramedics dread.
It's the rush hour, but paramedics Glenn Powell and Sammy Wills
don't have to worry about the morning jams, which is just as well.
Today's case is serious.
We're on route to reports of a 14-year-old young lady
that's been knocked down.
She's got leg injuries and a head injury.
The land crew have asked us to support them.
The accident's happened in a housing estate in the suburbs of Doncaster.
Pilot JJ Smith's spotted an ideal landing site, right next to the accident,
but it's not going to be an easy landing.
-We're coming in crosswind as well.
It's close to houses and trees.
Let's have a look.
-That field? Happy?
-That field opposite the guy?
Looking good my side.
But the team are down, within a few hundred yards of their patient.
Teenager Lauren was crossing the road near her home when the accident happened.
You're not going to break my leg back into place, are you?
-We're going to do what?!
-Break my leg back into place?
The damage to the car shows she was hit on the lower leg,
but its her femur, the biggest bone in the body, that appears to have been broken.
Where are you injecting me?
What we'd like to do is just put a little needle,
possibly in the back of your hand, maybe just in your elbow area.
In this one that's hurting?
No, we'll go in the one that's not hurting, shall we?
She's in a really awkward position on a cold surface,
so we've got to get her moved fairly quickly.
We can't move her straightaway because of the pain.
She's only small for a 14-year-old, so we're giving her a bit of pain relief.
A little sharp scratch, Lauren. Right, we're in there.
Right, you're just feeling something a little bit cold in the back of your hand.
And that's medicine, OK?
It's called morphine, it's a really strong painkiller.
Lauren's being very brave,
but Sam and Glenn need to turn her over to stabilise her leg and check for more serious injuries.
Trying to get the pain under control and then try to pull the leg straight with a traction splint.
And then we can get her on this spinal bar
-and get her on her way to hospital.
-Take a deep breath for me.
Many pedestrian suffer serious head injuries, but this was a low-speed accident.
That doesn't mean she's not in danger.
You can bleed to death internally from a fractured femur.
-Ah, my leg!
-They must straighten her leg where she lies.
They'll use a traction splint.
It's a device to stabilise her femur to minimise pain
and reduce potential blood loss through movement of the bones.
You might feel it going a bit cold up your arm.
-OK, that's fine.
-Lauren's mum was told about the accident by a neighbour.
She found her daughter lying on the road.
I didn't know your mum was here, Lauren.
Meanwhile, JJ the pilot has an emergency of his own to deal with.
Stray horses can damage helicopters, and, unless they are driven away, he won't be able to take off.
Can I go in the aer... I mean, not the aeroplane, the ambulance?
-I'm scared of flying.
-You won't know anything about it.
-I don't care, I don't like flying.
Despite Lauren's fears, Sammy and Glenn know that she needs to get to hospital as soon as possible.
I'll be right there at your side.
The team aren't taking no for an answer.
Lauren's medical condition is so serious that driving her through the rush hour is simply not an option.
-All right, Lauren, all the best, sweetheart.
Few people are more vulnerable on the roads than motorcyclists,
so any rider who comes off a motorway is lucky to survive.
Every day, the M18 in South Yorkshire
carries thousands of trucks heading to and from the Humber ports.
It's a lethal place to have an accident, especially if you're a motorcyclist.
Junction 1 on the M18, it's somewhere around here.
Two bikers have come off in the carriageway and been lucky to survive.
Alert truckers managed to avoid them and their bikes as they came to rest in the middle of the inside lane.
It's sitting here. Just come off A1 Junction 1, Bramley northbound, M18 Junction 1,
near Bramley, Rotherham.
And that's the location we've got.
Now Helimed 98 is on the case, but the motorway is still open, so pilot JJ can't touch down on the road.
Is there any way down?
Paramedics Paul and Kate can't reach their patient without some help.
-Got a ladder?
-But the fire brigade has the answer.
This section of the M18 was blasted out of the local rock.
The team have to climb down into the cutting.
JJ's taken off again.
Once the police have closed the motorway, he'll be able to get closer to his passenger.
Born-again biker Ben Reed and his wife were out for a spin when they came off.
Just trying to examine you to check if you've damaged your ribs.
Ben's in a bad way, but all he can think about is his wife.
-Where's my wife?
-Are you all right?
-I'm fine, love, I'm fine.
-I'm all right. Are you all right?
-I'm fine. Just do as they tell you.
-She's spot-on, mate.
I'm not too bad.
Just my hand's hurting, that's all.
He were pulling in, and the next thing I knew, I were on the floor.
Witnesses to the accident know how lucky Ben and his wife have been.
I was in the nearside lane. The bike overtook me cos I've a heavy load. Into the hard shoulder barrier.
He just got stuck, carried on,
attached to the barrier,
and just came off the bike.
The bike carried on, they stopped.
Can you wiggle your toes for me in your left foot?
Wiggle your toes.
-Wiggle your toes.
-Can you feel that?
I tell you what - this jacket's old, you can cut it.
He's got a lower leg injury and a chest injury,
decreased breath sounds on one side of his chest.
He's got scuff marks on his helmet,
so we can't rule out that he hasn't got a head injury.
Ben's wife is now realising how close they came to tragedy.
To come off on a motorway with all the juggernauts and the cars coming past,
they've been extremely lucky, yeah.
Now the motorway's been closed, JJ is clear to land.
He knows turning the M18 into a helipad will cause major disruption, but his patient must come first.
Hopefully, we'll only be five or six minutes and then we'll get him on and get him off,
so we don't delay both sides of the motorway long.
For every minute we delay them, they've got another mile tailback. We'll be as quick as we can.
Ben's wife has escaped the high-speed crash with just a broken bone in her hand.
She'll be back on her feet, but Ben won't be standing for a while.
Paul and Kate have diagnosed broken bones in both his feet.
Heading two-niner, zero degrees. Right, base?
Like many local bikers, the team's patient is a regular donor to the Air Ambulance charity.
But very few of the passengers are this happy to be getting a ride in the chopper.
He is quite a character.
He's been quite cheerful throughout, very excited to be in the helicopter.
Let's get you onto this ambulance.
'Bike accidents on motorways can potentially be really serious'
with significant injuries, so they've been really lucky today.
In a few days, Ben's back home,
but this biker knows there's a long road to recovery ahead
and plenty more weeks doing little more than watching the telly.
I've got five breaks in this left foot.
My right foot, I've got a break down the right-hand side here.
And then I've got what they're saying is a nasty break in here.
And this rib, I can feel that, that is terrible!
If we'd have come off in the third lane or the middle lane,
God knows what a car would have done to us.
We can only imagine. I've an idea what it would have done.
And Ben will continue to donate £1 a week to the Helimed team.
It's worth every penny, and I think that more people ought to think about putting something in it.
You don't think so, but you're going to need it one day.
It can happen to anybody.
Now, imagine knowing only you can save the life of a critically ill colleague.
It's the terrible responsibility faced by three members of the Helimed team this morning.
Helimed team dispatcher Chris Solomons had a massive heart attack,
minutes after he arrived for work.
After a shock from the chopper's defibrillator,
his heart is beating once more, but it could stop again at any moment.
Chris, it's James, you're at work.
It's just oxygen, it's just James.
You're at work. Just relax.
And there's a problem. It's early morning and the helipad at the Leeds General Infirmary is still closed.
Helimed 99 can't take off unless the hospital's fire crew can be raised.
They don't open till 8am. We're on the early shift today at 7am.
It's now 7.35, so we'll have to wait and see.
We've got an ambulance on the way and we'll decide then what's the best thing to do.
He's back with us now, so thank God for that.
Paramedic Lee Davison has treated hundreds of patients with heart attacks
but never a friend and colleague.
He and James Vine are assessing Chris's treatment so far to make sure they're not missing anything.
OK, shall we just re-analyse everything, then?
Normal sinus rhythm,
he's got a line in, he's had no adrenaline,
he's had aspirin, he's had CPR and shocks.
Chris is in agony. He's experiencing the symptoms that kill 120,000 people every year in the UK.
We've had to shock him twice,
trying to get the heart back into a normal rhythm.
We've worked on him with some CPR as well and managed to get some output.
We're trying to stabilise him now so we can get some of the cardiac team to look after him from there.
-All right, Chris? All right, mate. You're OK, you're at work.
Never got the aircraft out so fast.
Hopefully we can use it.
-If we can't, it's going to be a real pain for us.
The crew's here.
The ground ambulance crew are about to join the fight to save him.
This is absolutely dreadful for us, obviously, with it being one of our own.
It just took us on the hop a bit there.
We didn't expect him to come in like that, but that's what we're trained for
and we've managed to get him back.
Hiya, mate. We just need the trolley off.
We're just debating whether to go by air or not.
-Is it cardiac arrest?
We've got output.
He's been shocked twice. Came in with chest pain, looked really pale, clammy.
He went off on us after about ten minutes, and we've shocked him twice. He's had CPR.
We've got him back at the moment, he's been speaking to us.
If we can get hold of the LGI, we'll trolley him to the aircraft and take him.
What we're going to do, lads, if we can just hang on two minutes, we're just sorting the helipad out.
It was a couple of extra pairs of hands -
we didn't know what we were up to at that stage.
But at last, the team has some good luck.
The LGI's fire crew have been located.
Chris will be able to fly straight to A&E.
Bad day at the office. Not even had a cup of coffee yet, have we?
On three. One, two, three, lift.
He's still wired up to the ECG.
James isn't taking any chances.
Chris gave me the shock of my life.
They'll be able to monitor Chris's heart in the air.
OK. One, two, three and lift.
Keep going, lads, keep going, keep going, beautiful.
Chris is responding well - so well that James can crack the odd joke.
Try not to do anything stupid like that on the flight on the way down for me,
cos me and you are barely talking as it is at the moment, all right?
But he knows his patient's not out of the woods yet.
Chris is five minutes away from the primary angioplasty unit at the Leeds General Infirmary.
It's there a team of surgeons
deliver the most up-to-date treatment available to heart patients.
The plan is that Chris is going down to the LGI,
to be assessed by the cardiology team
to try to open the coronary artery that's blocked.
A tiny tube will be inserted into Chris's heart and the blocked artery opened out.
A tube or stent will stop a clot reoccurring.
On three. One, two, three and lift.
Many of the hospital's fire crew ran to work this morning.
They knew the patient was one of their own.
Right, mate, we're just coming into coronary care, OK?
Chris has played an important part in saving the lives of hundreds of heart attack victims
by ensuring the staff of this unit have a full breakdown of a patient's medical history.
There's no-one to do that for him today, but James and Lee will do their best.
Two shocks, 200 and 300, back into a sinus rhythm.
Systolic's been initially hypertensive at 70. He's up to a systolic at 118.
James and Lee have kept Chris alive long enough to give him the best chance of a good recovery.
We've come into coronary care at the LGI.
Obviously, this is what they specialise in here,
so he's in the best place that he can be.
We'll just get him transferred over to the team here
and then obviously, we'll leave him from here, but going on from here,
they'll probably take him to... just have a look...with the X-ray
and see where the blockage is and determine where to go from there.
Within an hour of his attack, he'll have had angioplasty.
But they know he's not out of danger yet, and it's time for them to leave.
Now let's return to the outskirts of Doncaster in south Yorkshire,
where the team are fighting to save a teenager knocked down while crossing the road near her home.
14-year-old Lauren was knocked down while walking her dog.
-I'm scared of flying!
-You won't know anything about it, sweetheart.
-I don't like flying. Please!
She's on her way to hospital with a very serious leg fracture and a broken wrist.
Lauren's mum will be reunited with her daughter in A&E.
It's been a morning neither of them will forget.
A few weeks later, the memories are still fresh.
Lauren had said that she was going to walk the dog with Natasha, as she does every morning.
The silver car, I just remember the bonnet coming, and it just hit me,
and I remember rolling across the road.
And there was an almighty banging on the door.
It frightened me to death. I thought the house was falling in,
I wondered what on earth had happened.
I felt, like, my leg breaking, because I didn't go unconscious when the car accident happened.
And she says, "I'm ever so sorry, are you Lauren's mum?" I said, "Yes,"
and she said, "I'm afraid she's been knocked over by a car."
And it really hurt, and I couldn't move this arm or anything, or my leg.
Horrific, actually. I never felt so frightened in all my life. It was awful.
There was loads of people putting blankets on me,
and I remember shaking cos I was so cold on the floor.
When they said that they were going to get the air ambulance, well, that really scared me,
because I really thought there must be something seriously wrong here.
I didn't want to go in it. I was like, "No, I don't like flying."
This woman, she was really nice. I don't know who it was, but she said, "No, come with me."
The driver of the vehicle that hit Lauren came up to me.
As he walked towards me, I said, "Can you tell me what happened?"
And he just said, "I'm really sorry, she just came from behind the back of the bus,
"and I didn't have time to stop."
I could tell by his face he was absolutely devastated.
It's three weeks since the accident, and Lauren's already getting bored waiting for her injuries to heal.
But the bad news is she may need further surgery on her wrist.
If we're going to do anything, we have to do it soon, like in the next day or two.
When will I be getting my cast off my wrist?
In about four weeks.
She was fortunate,
in terms of she didn't have any head, neck,
chest or abdominal injuries, so she just had broken bones,
which we can operate on, and they should heal up and be fine.
So she should have no long-term sequelae from the injury.
It'll be another month at least before Lauren's up and about again,
but mum and daughter know it could have been so much worse.
She could have been killed.
How any of us would have coped with that, I really don't know.
Now, remember Helimed dispatcher Chris Solomons,
whose sudden heart attack led to the sort of medical rescue mission he normally organises himself?
Let's catch up on his case.
Chris is lucky to be alive after a cardiac arrest.
It would have killed him if he hadn't been in the office
with paramedics James Vine and Lee Davison.
They were able to save his life by shocking his heart back into rhythm.
It's our bread and butter. We deal with that every day of the week.
But it's very different when you're having to do it for someone you genuinely care about.
You know, he's a good lad, he's one of our own, so you don't want to see harm come to anyone.
Now Chris is recovering in hospital after a procedure to open out a blocked artery in his heart.
I was scared. I tell you, I was scared.
Because at one stage my hands, they were just like that.
And I just couldn't open them or move them.
The pins and the needles was horrendous.
I then realised that there was something going on.
Because I knew this wasn't any type of indigestion,
because the pins and needles was down my legs as well.
It's not a thing I would like to experience again.
I wouldn't like anybody to experience it again.
Little more than 24 hours after the attack, Chris is sitting up in bed,
enjoying goodwill messages from his colleagues.
All the guys at work turned around and said,
if there's anything they can do, to let them know, which is brilliant,
which is brilliant.
So...just wait and see how I get on.
But I'm missing it already.
Chris began to feel the symptoms as soon as he arrived for work that day.
Get him on the floor.
He was effectively dead for five minutes, but his memories of that morning are hazy.
I don't know if I was getting up or if they were picking me up.
And then I don't remember anything after that until I'm on the floor
by the table.
There's Lee and James looking over me.
I don't know where Cobby was at the time. And two other paramedics.
Less than a week after his attack,
Chris is well enough to return to work, just for a social visit.
-Matey! All right?
-Just be careful!
He's here to thank the two men who saved his life.
-Still a bit sore.
-Is it? Can't understand why.
If laughter's the best medicine, he's come to the right place for treatment.
We just got rid of the chalk mark!
Oh, don't make me laugh, it hurts.
It will be a month or two before Chris is ready to even think about returning to the dispatch desk.
But at least he now knows how many of the team's patients feel.
Knowing it was James's official last day,
I wanted to come up and see him before he went back out on the road, to say thank you.
I didn't know Lee was going to be here. He kept that a secret from me.
But, no, I just basically wanted to see James
before he went off duty, because I knew I'd see Lee another day.
But to see them both in the same day is great.
And just to say my thank you to them.
It's a long road to recovery, but Chris is determined to get back to work with the Helimed team.
I would much rather be back at work doing my job
than be sat at home not doing anything.
When Helicopter Heroes comes back...
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 fire-fighter.
A mountain-biker loses her front teeth, but Dr Andy's determined to save her smile.
And a five-month-old baby is overcome by the hot sun.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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