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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.
The big freeze has hit the UK.
The emergency services are stretched to the limit.
And every day Yorkshire's two air ambulances are scrambled
to rescue people critically ill or seriously injured in the snow.
Today on Helicopter Heroes:
A sledging accident leaves a man seriously injured and the Helimed team are forced to become inventive.
He just hit the telegraph pole, he couldn't get out of the dinghy when it come to a stop.
There's a difficult seaside rescue, as icy roads leave a fishing village marooned.
The chopper's stranded in a moorland blizzard.
That's not a good idea, we'll stay here.
And a tree saves a lorry driver's life, but he's not out of woods yet.
If it wasn't for them trees, he'd have been going for a swim.
The freezing weather of January 2010
made Met Office records for all the wrong reasons.
Most of the UK shivered as many places suffered their worst winter for 30 years and there
was no shortage of this stuff, which meant long hours and hard work for the Ambulance Service.
Arctic weather straight from Siberia has brought the worst winter in three decades to the UK.
And at Helimed HQ they are ploughing the apron the team need to take off.
But some people are enjoying it,
suddenly Yorkshire's developed a passion for winter sports.
But the crew of Helimed 99 are there to pick up the pieces when it all goes wrong.
It's come down a hill there, into a telegraph pole.
Look out for a 20-plus year old male whose gone down the bank on a sledge
and struck a telegraph pole at the bottom.
There'll only be one winner in that one.
They might as well be in a car smash as on a sledge, because when you hit something, it hurts just as much.
Paramedic Glen Powell knows more about sledging accidents than most.
HE LAUGHS I've had it.
Don't show them your injury.
I had a wrist injury as a result of a sledging accident with my son.
I must say I was encouraged to go faster and faster by my son.
It was nothing to do with me.
The heavy blanket of snow over the North York Moors
is making it difficult to find the injured sledger.
There's a quad bike down there.
There does seem to be a flurry of people there.
I can't make out if there is any ambulance people down there.
Casualty's over there...
There's somebody stood with both his arms up, waving you in at the top of the hill.
The top of the hill was the only safe place to touch down.
But it's going to be a long and difficult trek to the victim, who's stuck at the bottom.
Field's solid. That'll do. Ish!
-Where is he?
-'It's the Helimed team's lucky day, a man on a quad bike has come to the rescue.'
-Can I get on the back of that with you?
Hitching a lift to a patient is unusual,
but when the snow falls, paramedics have to make it up as they go along.
Glen's on his way...
There's another surprise for Glen when he gets there, the patient has run aground in an inflatable dinghy.
He's hit that telegraph as he's come down there.
I just thought it was weird the way it caught his sort of left hip and...
The shops had sold out of proper sledges, so 28-year-old Simon Batty was forced to improvise.
Now, he's paying the price.
How fast were you going, were you hell for leather?
Yeah, did somebody see it? Yeah. Straighten that leg for me.
The ground paramedics suspect he has seriously damaged his chest and possibly broken his hip.
This could mean there is internal bleeding, which is potentially life-threatening.
That's really hurting you? OK. Did you hear anything go crack or 'owt?
'Simon's sister was among the first to come to his rescue.'
Just briefly, I'll pop it back on in a minute.
Obviously you've got obstacles, the telegraph pole,
various bits and pieces, cattle troughs and things and
he just hit the telegraph pole in the dinghy.
The dinghy took quite a lot of the brunt, but then it's all ricocheted through his body and everything.
Simon desperately needs hospital treatment, the Helimed 99 is
half a mile away at the top of an ice-packed hill, along with Darren and all the medical equipment.
The quad bike is brought back into action.
Roger, bring a spinal board and flex along with you. Over.
'Meanwhile Glen tries to get Simon's pain under control... It's not going to be easy.'
We won't knock you out, but it might make you feel a bit woozy.
The reinforcements arrive.
They need to lift Simon onto a spinal board.
The idea is just to keep his back as steady as you can.
So if you put your hand in, Simon, and hold your other hand.
OK. Lock them together.
Ready, steady, lift.
Back there. That will do.
Ready, steady, down.
That's it. You can rest it now.
-Is that better?
-Now they can look more closely at his injured leg.
Without an X-ray, they can't tell exactly what's wrong, but it looks serious.
It's just deformed, isn't it?
There is a slight deform there. There's something going on there.
They've still got the problem of how to get Simon back up the hill.
Glen's had an idea and once again it involves the quad bike.
How do you feel about resting board on this...
dinghy and towing with quad, using this as a sled?
Yes, sound like a plan.
Does it? With enough of us round it, going slowly.
Simon, can you breathe all right with all this contraption on you?
We're getting a nice warm sleeping bag for you.
We've fastened him into this orange reflective blanket
and wrapped him up a bit like a Christmas turkey to keep him warm.
We've put him into the dinghy that he was in, we'll secure him into
the dinghy and then we'll tow him with the quad bike back up the hill.
Obviously it's treacherous underfoot.
If we're holding him and we all fall down and he gets a double injury, we don't want that.
It's untried and not without danger, but it's the only way up.
Coming up: Simon's journey to hospital begins.
But it's a risky operation.
Get back to side, mate. Fooled me and all.
A mini-bus driver has a miraculous escape on the ice.
If it had gone up in flames, we would have been no chance.
And a teenage rider is kicked in the face by her horse.
The modern ambulance is a sophisticated vehicle, fully equipped to save lives.
Not only does it have the latest medical technology, it's also crewed
by highly trained paramedics, but what happens when winter hits the roads?
It's breakfast time at Helimed headquarters. Paramedics Tony Wilkes
and Kate Coughlan are being scrambled on a seaside rescue.
What I'm going to do, I'll get the coastguard there to get a landing site set up.
In the picturesque fishing village of Runswick Bay an elderly man has suffered a stroke.
Stroke is where somebody's got an injury to the brain, either
a blood vessel's bleeding into the brain,
or there is blood clot in the brain.
Research has showed a lot of these patients do really well,
provided they get definitive treatment quite early.
Local paramedics have been forced to park up and hike half a mile down
steep steps to their patient. The road down the cliffs is icy and lethal.
The coastguard are securing the seafront landing pad for the chopper.
Helimed 99, this is Humber Coastguard.
For information now our coastguard team are on the scene.
If you call them direct on this channel for an update. Over.
Each minute increases the risk of their patient suffering further brain damage.
But the snow could yet prevent pilot Chris Atrill from reaching him.
We'll go around the left down here.
Tom Taylor is 89.
He collapsed in his seafront house overlooking the beach.
Runswick Bay is perched on the side of a 300-foot cliff.
The coastguard have sealed off the beach so the pilot, Chris, has a clear landing pad.
-Are you OK?
-You're fine to go.
Kate and Tony know it's vital their patient gets to hospital as soon as possible.
You will need a scoop or a spinal board to get him out of house.
But it's not just the roads that are icy.
The ancient walkways, built with Victorian fishermen in mind, are also lethally slippery.
Whereabouts are we? Hi, mate.
-He was on the bath side and fell back and hit his head.
Tom, my name's Kate.
Can you hear me OK?
You're going to go to James Cook.
'Tom's in a bad way. He's had strokes before.'
You'll go in the helicopter, because with the bad weather, it's quite hard for the ambulance to come down.
Are you all right with that? Good man.
Tom and his neighbours are virtually cut off from the outside word, thanks to the big freeze.
Atrocious. Absolutely atrocious.
That bank that you came down has been basically shut for a couple of days.
There's no grit now. All that's been used, we just can't get any.
But the weather will also make Tom's rescue complicated.
It might take ten minutes to actually get him down there.
The pilot's wondering whether to be OK or just wait for this.
I will have a word with pilot.
I'll bring scoop up and I'll see you back up here. OK.
Basically, this chap's in the bedroom in the house, we need the scoop stretcher to get him down.
I'm just going to liaise with the pilot and get the scoop.
Then we'll go back and see if we can get him down to the helicopter.
Pilot Chris must keep the engines running, in case a technical fault
prevents him lifting off before the tide comes in.
We'll stay running here for a while, mate, as long as somebody keeps an
eye out and makes sure nobody walks in behind me. That's all.
I told coastguard that we would have to wait here.
It would be safer to airlift Tom from the cliff top. But that's impossible.
They're going to have to carry him down several flights of steep stone steps to the beach.
They're icy and it will be a risky operation, but leaving Tom's stroke untreated could kill him.
Coming up: Tom's rescuers face a difficult job carrying him to Helimed 99.
Sledger Simon desperately needs surgery.
He's stable, but in a lot of pain. We've given him the maximum pain relief we can.
And the team carry out a dramatic house call, only to find someone missing.
The patient's left scene in the response car, apparently on their way to a football pitch.
At 150mph, the Helimed choppers can fly straight over most of
the hazards that get in the way of their colleagues on the ground.
Even in weather like this.
But there's one deadly danger that can stop even the Helimed team.
At Sheffield Airport, it's the coldest day of the year.
Temperatures last night plunged to minus seven Celsius.
Just a few miles up the road, whole communities are cut off and driving's lethal.
It's not long before paramedics Pete Vallance and Kate Drye are on their way to deal with the results.
They say a minibus left the road,
overturned and we believe there are two casualties.
Not sure at the moment whether anyone's trapped.
Down there, road ambulances are struggling to reach patients,
but flying in winter has its problems too.
Navigation's much harder over a landscape of white
and there's confusion over the location of the accident.
The grid reference is wrong. It says it is near the Slouch Inn, which is Slouch and Crow Edge.
Pilot Tim's keeping out a weather eye.
A snow storm could ground Helimed 98.
We've got snow showers in the area.
Some out to the west, which are moving our way slowly.
So that might hamper the job at some stage, depending how long we are on the ground for.
Paramedic, Kate, lives near the accident.
It's really icy this morning.
I live up near there and it was icy on my way to work.
So we could be first on the scene, it depends what the road is like.
That's if they can reach it. The snow's starting to fall.
I can't see anything, do you want to just tell them, Kate.
Yeah, 98. There's nothing at the grid by the Slouch, so we are making
our way up to Crow Edge to see if there's anything up there, over.
This is tricky. Snow is reducing visibility.
-There it is?
-What a spot that was!
-It's a good job you slowed down.
-Helimed 98, landing on scene, over.
The minibus was taking a holiday-maker to Manchester Airport
when it left the road and overturned.
The driver and his passenger ended up hanging upside-down from their seat belts.
What I need you to do...
'Kate would like to check out the driver but he reckons he's unhurt.'
I'll pop on here that you had no apparent injuries and didn't feel you needed assessment at hospital.
Despite the shock of the accident, the passenger was fit enough
to climb out and hitch a lift to catch his flight.
He's been really, really lucky.
He's obviously skidded on some black ice, come off the road and it's rolled onto its roof
and they've both got out, wandering around, no injuries.
If we had been in flames, we'd have had no chance... We wouldn't have got out.
But the weather is getting worse.
It's like a different world, isn't it?
A couple of miles down the road at Penistone, it's virtually clear,
and you're coming up here, it's like Alaska, isn't it?
Snowdrifts and everything else.
It's afternoon and Tim wants to get out while he can.
Quite heavy snow showers coming in, so we'll either have to wait until
it clears but if it doesn't, we'll taxi down the main road until
we're back into clear air, so we can fly back to Sheffield.
Tim is going to have to work hard.
Blowing snow is robbing him of the visual references he needs to stay straight and level.
He looks calm but he's under stress.
Can you hit the heater switch, Pete?
Yeah. Do you want it vent high?
'Eventually, he has no option.
'They're not going anywhere.'
No. That's not a good idea, we're staying here.
Helimed 98 is stranded in a blizzard, 500ft up in the Pennines,
next to a road that's rapidly becoming impassable.
Shall I send for my husband and a flask of tea?
-Anybody got any cards?
We're stranded at the moment, on the top of a hill in heavy snow showers.
So we'll be waiting here until it clears.
At the moment, visibility is such that we're unable to lift safely to head back to Sheffield airport,
so we'll either end up with
an igloo or we'll get back to Sheffield some time before knocking off time.
Checking the forecast.
But after an hour in an unheated cabin, that igloo's looking tempting.
Just seeing where Captain Scott's supply depots were positioned over the Pennines.
It's not often these guys need rescuing,
but in this weather, four-wheel drive beats flying any day.
Conditions are getting worse. We've got this for at least another two or three hours.
But that's the way it goes, isn't it?
As the weather gets even worse, the police come to the rescue.
These tarpaulins will protect Helimed 98 until it stops falling.
The crew find somewhere more comfortable to sit out the blizzard.
Oh, dear. I've got Pete's hand in the air. Wait a sec.
We're used to going out in the elements. You wrap up,
so you've got plenty of layers on - thermals, fleece, jacket.
But once you get damp, then you soon start to feel that.
And there's a good reason there's a warm welcome at the inn.
'We needed a call-out 14 months ago,
'when my mother-in-law was badly injured in a fire up here.'
The paramedic came first and they called the air ambulance. They did a wonderful job.
At last, three hours after their emergency landing,
and with less than an hour of daylight left,
the crew leave the log fire to thaw out Helimed 98.
We've got a clearing at the moment.
The weather is temporarily clear.
We still have snow showers coming in over the hills so we'll keep an eye on those,
but we'll make a break for it and get back to Sheffield now.
Look at that. A Crimbo-card shot.
It's been a long day, but at least Helimed 98
will be back at base and ready to save lives again tomorrow.
A difficult seaside rescue reaches its climax,
and high in the Dales, a trip to the shops ends in a nasty crash.
There's a sort of sensation pulsating down her right leg as well.
Now let's go back to the snowbound slopes of the North York Moors,
where a man on a makeshift sledge has had a terrible accident.
The worst winter for 30 years has brought the sledgers of North Yorkshire out in force.
The icy conditions mean that Helimed 99 has to land at the top of a hill,
half-a-mile away from 28-year-old Simon Batty, who has run aground in his rubber dinghy.
Simon's injuries are potentially life-threatening,
and getting him back up the treacherous slope to the helicopter is a problem.
But paramedic Glen has had an idea.
Nice and steady, nowt fast.
Towing a patient by quad bike definitely isn't standard procedure and it could be risky.
The only other option is to call out mountain rescue and they're at least an hour away.
Any delay in getting Simon to hospital could put his life in further danger.
It's great, it works every time!
I'm glad Glen thought of it.
It's Glen's idea. If it snaps and goes back down, I don't get blamed for it!
It's hard to believe this is North Yorkshire, not the North Pole.
At last they make it, without mishap.
Excuse me, would you pull this dinghy out for us when we lift it?
Just go straight up to start with.
On lift. Ready, steady, lift.
Feet first. A bit higher than that.
-Feed it on, keep it up.
-Keep going, keep going.
In, and out.
We're going to take this chap down to York District
to get him checked over. He needs an X-ray.
He's stable, but in a lot of pain.
We've given him the maximum pain relief we can
and he's still in a lot of pain
so we're querying some fractures, we don't know where,
but he is now stable.
Within minutes, Simon is on his way to the best care available.
Glen is relieved his plan has worked
and Simon's sister is making the best of a bad situation.
This is the best view you'll ever get of the snow.
I always wanted to ride in a helicopter, but I never thought that it would be this way.
-At the expense of your brother's leg.
-You can say what you like, he can't hear you!
-It's normally me that's the accident-prone one.
Did you witness the actual accident?
No, I didn't. I rang him and his friend answered and I said, "Where's Simon?"
He said, "He's had an accident, can you get here?"
I'm like, "I'm at the top of the bank, you're not in the dinghy at the bottom?"
He was like, "Yes, we are."
Everybody mucked in. Did you know the gentleman with the quad?
Really lucky that we had that there.
I don't know what we'd have done if we hadn't. We'd have been there another half-hour at least.
He did a sterling job, did that lad.
-Keep him up, keep him up.
Simon will soon know what damage the telegraph pole has done to him.
Simon, you're trussed up like a Christmas turkey, mate!
Whatever his injuries, he's going to take a long time to recover.
'I visit a very lucky man in hospital
'and the team race to rescue the victim of a heart attack,
'but no-one is home.'
The patient has left, seen in the response car apparently, on the way to a football pitch.
There's one good thing about winter by the seaside.
Thanks to the salty air, the snow doesn't usually hang around,
but in Runswick Bay on the Yorkshire coast,
the weather has still managed to put the skids under the local paramedics.
Helimed 99 is waiting on the beach to carry out a life-saving airlift.
Tom Taylor has suffered a stroke and is trapped
in his seaside cottage by the wintry weather that has made
the steep hill down to his home impassable.
One, two, three. Up you come. We're up.
It's good to see what you look like now.
He badly needs clot-busting drugs to prevent further damage to his brain.
-Which way do you want to go?
-We're going to James Cook.
Doctors at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough
are already on standby.
Blood pressure 89 over 52.
Oxygen saturation is 97%.
It's icy underfoot
and this is a dangerous journey for patient and rescuers alike.
We're going to bring him down now so I'll just get the helicopter ready.
-Have you got enough manpower?
-It looks like it, yes.
Pilot Chris is concerned about the time the rescue is taking.
He's watching the sea
and he doesn't like what he sees.
I've been watching it near the rocks. It's not moving any further away.
It's probably going out.
Runswick Bay was built around a network of alleyways and steps,
when reaching the beach on foot was all the local fishermen cared about.
-You watch your back, mate.
-Just bring him down there.
-Are you sure?
Now, its antiquated layout is making life difficult.
Do you want me to take that, sweetheart? You sure?
But at last, Tom reaches the beach.
Tom's son will fly with him.
Watch your feet, OK?
Pilot Chris has been nervously watching the tide for 45 minutes.
He's relieved to be preparing for take-off.
Tom's son is a former soldier who has served in Iraq.
He's used to helicopters, but this is the first time he's taken off from his own front door.
Helimed 99 to Staithes coastguard, just thank you very much for your assistance. Over.
'This is Staithes coastguard, you're more than welcome.'
Kate knows Tom's chances of a full recovery will be much better once he's reached Middlesbrough,
and the journey will take just ten minutes,
a fraction of the hour-and-a-half it could have taken in these weather conditions by road.
He's got quite a big history of strokes,
so he'll need a good examination before
they decide what to do next, really.
He's invincible, I think, to be honest.
Tom has had a remarkable life.
More than 20 years ago, at an age when most people are thinking of retirement,
he and his wife adopted six orphans from Brazil and brought them up here.
All from the same village,
and she kept going back and forth and adopting children.
Basically we have been living here for the last 16 years,
so it's been nice, very nice.
Tom is taken straight to the hospital's specialist stroke unit.
Over the next few weeks, his condition improves
and he's moved to a nursing home,
where he receives regular visits from his large adopted family.
Sadly, six months later, Tom passed away.
'I gate-crashed visiting time to meet a very lucky patient,
'despite 11 broken ribs.'
I've fractured my hip,
which I've had to have pinned and plated.
When the weather is like this, normal life can come to a standstill,
but the UK's number one killer doesn't care about snow and ice.
Heart disease can strike at any moment,
even when the roads to your local hospital are blocked.
And when that happens,
you had better hope the Helimed team are around.
Yorkshire's air ambulances spend most of their time
flying to the rescue of victims of traumatic injury,
but the big freeze means they can be called in for any medical emergency
and for one man with a heart attack,
help is about to come from the skies.
They're on their way to a village near York.
from the other side of York.
A patient having a heart attack.
Land transit would be up to two hours,
so we've offered to go and collect the patient.
Helimed 99 touches down at the bottom of the patient's garden, but there's a problem.
He's not at home!
The patient has left the scene in the response car apparently, on their way to a football pitch.
He didn't know anything about this. Over.
So it's back through the garage and time to get some directions.
Which way is the football pitch? Do you know where that is?
VOICES TALK ON RADIO
Helimed 99 finds the football pitch and the patient.
Helimed 99 on the ground of the new location. Over.
Peter Wilson's flight to hospital may have been slightly delayed by a communications breakdown,
but he'll be undergoing life-saving treatment far faster than if he'd gone by road.
Doctors in Leeds General Infirmary's angioplasty unit quickly opened up the blocked arteries in his heart.
He could be at home
within as little as two days and that's from a major heart attack.
I don't think, really, we could ask for better than that.
Thousands of motorists ended up stuck in snow drifts
or marooned miles from home as snow blanketed Britain,
but even light snowfall can prove lethal.
It's breakfast time on the North York Moors,
but in the wilds of Eskdale, ice on a steep hill has caught out an unwary lorry driver.
A tree is all that's preventing his truck
plunging down a 30ft drop to the river below,
and the driver is trapped.
They've come down to deliver meat in the village and have arrived down the slope.
When they hit the bend, the vehicle slid and rolled down the embankment.
It's come to a halt on the tree.
50 miles away, the crew of Helimed 99 are on the case.
Whether there is any other vehicle involved, I don't know.
Darren Axe and Tony Wilkes know the extreme cold
could have serious consequences for anyone caught out in the open.
Hypothermia is a real risk today.
Helimed 99 is heading east across the icy Vale Of York.
We're on our way towards Whitby, Egton, which is out in the middle of nowhere.
Unfortunately, it's a fair distance out, over 45 miles.
At best speed, that will take us about 20 minutes to get there.
Below, fresh snow is making blue lights and sirens next to useless.
No-one can drive quickly on these roads
and even ambulances have been caught out by the conditions.
The crew are four minutes away from the incident.
Crikey, we're only three minutes behind them.
Yeah, Roger. Thanks for that.
ETA is about 45 minutes. Over.
Might be first on the scene, then.
Yeah. Look at that one. That's a good one, isn't it, mate?
This is the area patrolled by the 1960s policemen in the TV drama, Heartbeat.
It's an idyllic landscape, but even today the locals are a long way away from a major hospital.
It's a really beautiful part of the world, and even at this time of the year with the snow down,
it's really scenic. The problem is, the roads can be treacherous.
Obviously they're just country lanes, a lot of them,
and they don't get gritted, so driving can be particularly hazardous.
It's quite common to have quite nasty road-traffic collisions up here,
especially when the weather is as it is today.
At least the White Horse on Sutton Bank is white today and not grey! HE LAUGHS
Because of the speed at which we go,
it's a long and arduous trip for the ground ambulance crews,
especially in weather conditions like this.
-We're going to pull straight up, mate.
Local paramedics have arrived first.
-It's Neil, 49.
We think he's had a skid with a car.
-He's all right, actually.
He just said he was trapped by the steering wheel, that's all.
Yeah, that's fine.
It looks like the driver has had a lucky escape,
but he's not out of danger yet.
A single tree is supporting several tons of lorry.
Firefighters are struggling to remove the steering wheel so he can be freed from his cab.
Looks like he's been a really lucky chap.
He's skidded off the road, hit this tree,
which has stopped him going down any further into the river.
He's just got minor injuries.
The driver has been lent a woolly hat by the local policeman to keep him warm,
but he hasn't got time to get cold.
Within minutes, he's out and fit enough to scramble back up the ravine
that could so easily have killed him.
His rescuers know he's a lucky man.
-This way, love.
-Steady on, lad!
He's been lucky.
He's hit that tree.
If you can call it lucky!
-What do you reckon?
-If it wouldn't have been for them trees, there,
he'd have been going for a swim.
Without his delivery, the local shops will be short of meat today,
but he'll soon be back at work after a precautionary check-up.
The demand on the emergency services during the big freeze doesn't just drop because it's Christmas,
and winter is doing its best to put the skids under the Helimed team.
The electric trolley that lifts the chopper out of its hangar can't handle the snow.
It may be Boxing Day, but Helimed 99 is soon airborne.
We've got a visual of the vehicle. 99 over.
The accident happened at stables in North Yorkshire.
14-year-old Fern Edwards was saddling her horse when she was kicked in the face.
It's Boxing Day and the weather is obviously chilly.
It's a fair run out for us, but apparently the nearest ground vehicle
is over 40 minutes away, whereas we're a 12-minute flight, maximum.
Fern has suffered serious injuries and needs urgent plastic surgery.
Has she got any bleeding or...?
It's actively bleeding out of the wound itself. It's started to clot.
Any significant injury above the collarbone
dictates that they need to be immobilised on a spinal board
and transferred to hospital in that way.
Let me just have a quick feel at your neck. Tell me if it hurts.
Is that OK?
Fern's mum is terrified.
Her daughter is an experienced horsewoman
and accidents like this are very rare.
Can you open your eyes at all?
Is it too sore to do that?
Her right eye has swelled up quite a lot since we arrived.
The force needed to inflict the kind of wounds Fern has suffered
means she could also have sustained injuries to her neck.
Bring her right up.
Try not to put any weight on.
With the roads around the stable still treacherous with snow,
ground paramedics know Helimed 99 is the best way to get Fern to hospital.
Flight confirmed, and clear left.
The road journey to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough
could take twice the usual time today,
even on a traffic-free Boxing Day.
By air, it'll be less than 10 minutes.
OK, 080 is your bearing, 16.6 miles.
In Middlesbrough, a surgical team called in from home
is already preparing for Fern's arrival.
They'll operate immediately to repair her injuries, but the risk of infection is high.
It'll be an anxious Christmas week for her mum.
In just three hours, one day during the big freeze,
nearly 1,000 people dialled 999 for an ambulance,
so many that one day the service had to enact their disaster plan
designed for a major plane or train crash.
Up in the Dales, the greatest demand comes as a slight thaw tempts locals to head out for supplies.
Today, that has led to a serious accident.
Helimed 99 outbound...
east to Wensleydale.
Helimed 99 is flying through the spectacular scenery of Wolfdale.
In the summer, Bolton Abbey is a major tourist attraction,
but today the roads are too dangerous for sightseers.
You need four-wheel drive on these roads, and Kate knows her colleagues down there often don't have it.
It's pretty difficult to drive in these conditions because you want to get there as quick as you can
but there's no point crashing your ambulance
and needing a crew to come out for you.
The team are on their way to help out a ground crew at a crash involving a car
and a van on a minor road near the market town of Middleham.
This is racing country and it's the first day the local trainers have been able to exercise their horses.
This winter has been particularly bad really for the amounts that's come down,
but generally you do, at some point, get snow up here.
It's the time of year when we do get requests off land crews, particularly struggling on the roads.
Any time of year we can get road-traffic collisions, in particular up here,
but these weather conditions make it more likely.
If you do get yourself caught out with these sub-zero temperatures,
obviously it wouldn't take very long before you find yourself having real problems.
A crew from one of Yorkshire's most isolated ambulance stations,
Bainbridge, a village with a population of just a few hundred,
is already on a scene at a remote junction.
The domestics just at your 1 o'clock.
Even on dry roads, this area is more than 45 minutes from the nearest hospital
and more than an hour from a trauma unit.
Worryingly, the motorist is getting strange pains in her legs.
-She's got a pain score of five.
-But is it spinal or muscular?
She's not that sure really, she's not given much away.
But there's a sort of like sensation pulsating down her right leg as well.
-Hiya, pet. How are you doing?
-We're doing OK.
Zoe Gomm works for a company that provides animals and stunt riders for movies.
She worked on the film The Da Vinci Code,
but today she's been injured on a trip to the shops.
No numbness, no pins and needles.
Feels worse than it was?
Yes. I can't twist that way.
I knew once I had hit it in the car, I could feel it.
I'm just worried because my legs have gone with it before.
Zoe's car isn't badly damaged, but the crew know
that doesn't necessarily mean she's not badly hurt.
Basically she's got back pain.
She's got previous back problems, so we're not sure
if it's just exacerbation of previous problems she's had.
But erring on the side of caution, the land crew's immobilised her and we're going to fly her to Lancaster.
The roads to the hospital she'll be flown to are blocked with snow.
That doesn't matter to Helimed 99.
Thank God I didn't have my little one in the car.
-That's a blessing.
Zoe's new to Dales' winters
and this weather.
We're very cut-off because we've got a massive hill each end,
so it wasn't gritted.
I didn't get out for three or four days when the snow first came,
but this last week it's been quite horrendous, but I just continued out in it really.
There's nothing else you can do.
BP is 124 over 70.
Pulse oxygenation is 99% on air with a pulse of 75.
In 10 minutes, Zoe will be touching down on the helipad
at Lancaster Royal Infirmary where her back will be scanned.
For her, the flight is much more comfortable than the road journey,
but the big freeze is likely to make the team's job harder for some weeks yet.
It'll be April before the last snow melts from the hills of the Dales.
Helimed 99 battling with the snow there,
and I'm pleased to say all our team's patients recovered,
but in North Yorkshire, hospital doctors are waiting to examine a man
seriously injured in a sledging accident.
'Simon Batty is stranded with serious injuries
'after crashing his rubber dinghy.
'His sister, Claire, is witnessing one of the most unusual rescues Helimed 99 has ever carried out.
'A farmer on a quad bike has been commandeered to tow Simon up the icy slope to the waiting helicopter.
'It's exactly one week since Simon had his freak sledging accident.
'He's recovering in York Hospital and Claire has brought
'Simon's little girl, Sophie, to see her dad too.'
So tell us then about this day
that led you to be here in this hospital bed now.
Claire suggested going sledging at the weekend
so I thought, "Oh, it's a good idea." I had been watching it on the news.
I haven't been sledging for years.
What did you end up taking as your sledge?
I took my rubber dinghy that I bought in Tenerife!
I had been there about two hours. I just decided to get back on it and have another go. I just took off.
You were literally just flying down.
A free-for-all really.
I couldn't do nothing about it.
I just saw this great telegraph pole coming towards me,
hitting it, sort of wrapping around it,
and it's sort of like, as I wrapped round it,
it sprung me off and from then on I just couldn't breathe.
I knew I was in quite a lot of trouble.
I knew myself that it was probably a helicopter job
because of just where we were.
I thought, "There's no way they're going to get me out of here."
There was still people sledging, hadn't realised what had happened,
still coming down the bank.
So myself and my husband, Mark,
we tried to stop any further accidents happening
or anybody ploughing into him because that would have made his injuries much worse.
They dropped me off near York Hospital and as soon as I got to the hospital,
I was straight on the morphine and that was it. A bit blurred from there.
You know this could have been so much worse, don't you?
Just by the 11 ribs, it's an absolute miracle how he didn't puncture them.
If he had done in those conditions, in the situation, it could have been a lot worse.
When Helicopter Heroes comes back...
A 12-year-old boy fights for his life after his mum's car hits a bus.
He's been unconscious all the time.
A farmer is badly injured after an explosion in a barn.
It's 300 metres blast radius.
-One of the UK's toughest sports claims a casualty.
Did you fall and hurt yourself anywhere else?
And there's a mercy mission in the snow to save a sick little girl.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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