Episode 20 Helicopter Heroes


Episode 20

Documentary series focusing on the work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. A family day out ends in a car smash, and two mothers become amateur medics to treat four injured children.


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Transcript


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If you're seriously ill

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or critically injured, every second counts, especially if you're up high or off the beaten track.

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But thanks to these guys, the people of the UK's biggest county are never more

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than 10 minutes away from a hospital. The Yorkshire Air Ambulance can do 150mph

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and every day brings a new life or death emergency.

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Five million people depend on these yellow helicopters to bring lifesaving care from the skies.

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When a multiple pile-up closes Britain's highest motorway,

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or there's a shop-floor accident,

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the paramedics and pilots of the Helimed team are there to rescue the casualties.

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Today on Helicopter Heroes:

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a family day out ends in a car crash and a passing mum turns medic.

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They asked if we had a First Aid kit.

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A man loses his fingers in a factory accident. Can Paramedic Sammy save them?

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You do get a lot of pain,

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so I'm drawing up a second dose.

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A cyclist is badly injured.

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Just going to pop you off to sleep then off to hospital.

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And the swimmer who didn't look before he leapt.

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It takes three years of hard study to qualify as a paramedic,

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seven to become a doctor and more than 10 to build up the experience needed to be an Air Ambulance pilot.

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It's a lot of expensive expertise,

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but the results can be priceless.

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The steep hill that takes holiday traffic nearly 900 feet up Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire

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is among the UK's most accident-prone A roads.

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It's blocked twice a week on average, often by drivers underestimating its 1 in 4 incline.

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And today it's closed again.

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Helimed 99 was refuelling at an airfield just five miles away

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when the 999 call came in.

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This is Helimed 99.

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Making our way to Sutton Bank. We'll be there very shortly.

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The accident's just two minutes away.

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We don't know what's involved yet. We'll be on the scene pretty quick.

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There's your visual, yeah.

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Pilot Chris Atrill has spotted a mansion with a large garden set into the hillside.

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The front lawn's about to become a helipad.

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Got a visual of that, mate. Close to the house.

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-I'll put you on the corner of the lawn.

-OK, just watch the tail, Chris. Have a look, mate.

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-That's all right.

-Cool.

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-Just watch. A bit to the left.

-No worries.

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The smash has happened halfway up the hill.

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A family hatchback has been in a collision with a tractor.

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The car was carrying a family of five to a day out at an amusement park.

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Three children are injured. Helimed 99 are the first medics on scene, but they already have help.

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We need a couple of vehicles. Get two vehicles coming.

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Mum-of-two Sarah Quinn was returning home after a camping break

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when she came across the accident.

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She's having trouble with her stomach.

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Sarah's been cradling five-year-old Samia in her arms.

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I think it's hurting inside. This gentleman's going to help you.

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-There's no one else? Just the children?

-These two people,

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two adults, four children... We pulled up after the crash.

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Hello. I'm Simon.

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Where does it hurt?

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Oh, there. Oh, dear.

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Samia's complaining that her tummy hurts. Children are particularly at risk from internal injuries.

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It's sore here? Are you OK?

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Take a big breath like you're blowing a balloon up.

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Oh, good girl. Well done.

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I'm not going to hurt. I just want a quick tickle of your tummy. OK?

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Sutton Bank is wet and slippery today. The weather's been a factor in the accident.

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We saw the tractor come round the bend, but we lost it, then it was seconds.

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We just jumped out and got the kids out of the car

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and just wrapped them up, just to keep them calm, really.

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We were about five cars behind and just saw the queue of traffic.

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Somebody asked if we had a First Aid kit, so I went down.

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The children were bleeding, so I took hold of Samia and just cuddled her, really,

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talked to her, kept her off the wet floor. Horrible.

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The little girl's mum and dad are shocked and hurt themselves

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and have been caring for Samia's two sisters and their nephew.

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Chest is hurting, abdo's all right, pelvis is fine,

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good movement of limbs.

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Flying doctor Simon Ward fears Samia nay have a serious internal injury.

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Look what I've got here. Can I listen to your breakfast?

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OK? It doesn't hurt.

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OK? You're ever so good. It's a bit cold.

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Big breath like a balloon. Good girl. And another one.

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Excellent. Now let's listen for that breakfast.

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The team must be sure to prioritise the most serious patients.

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-We need another board, a collar.

-Yep, for this one?

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-Yeah, she's pale. Spleen's gone.

-Spleen?

-I think so.

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-They badly need extra help.

-I wanted to get a board and collar.

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-Coming up: they get reinforcements as the first child heads to hospital.

-The most serious patient.

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-A cyclist suffers serious head injuries.

-It's a case of getting him to definitive care now at Leeds.

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And a man seriously injured cooling off in the heatwave.

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There's a skin flap to his head and C-spine pain.

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For the Ambulance Service, time is critical and, in some cases,

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the speed these guys react can make the difference between a lifetime of disability and a good recovery.

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Emergencies don't come much more urgent than today's.

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There's been a 999 call about an industrial accident at a factory near Pontefract.

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A gentleman apparently cut three of his fingers off.

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We'll see when we get there.

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We're hoping to take this patient to Leeds General Infirmary.

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-If they're not able to accept him, Pinderfields is nearest.

-OK.

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With modern surgical techniques, fingers can be reattached, but it's got to be done quickly.

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ETA 10 minutes.

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Pilot Chris Atrill grew up in Australia where they had a robust attitude to accidents.

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-Somebody did that at school on the old metal lathe...

-No!

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The chopper's touching down in a delivery yard.

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Clear of the posts at the rear.

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Stay right, rear.

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-Good. Thank you very much.

-Good to go.

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Patient Chris Hewitt is already being treated by a ground ambulance.

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Hello, chaps. How are we doing?

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This is Chris Hewitt, 40-year-old gentleman. He trapped his fingers.

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Those three have gone. One's hanging on, we've got two on some ice.

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-Brilliant.

-He's had some Tramadol.

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-Let's show t'dog to t'rabbit.

-Don't you look, sweetie.

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This gentleman, it looks like he has amputated some fingers.

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He's got quite a lot of pain. We're just cleaning him up

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and getting better pain relief. And then we'll take him.

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The time it takes to get him and his severed fingers to hospital is critical.

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Two have been cut clean off and his little finger is barely attached.

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-He's in pain and the first priority is to ease it.

-Just confirm with me, morphine sulphate.

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-In date, Feb '12.

-Yeah, that's right.

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Just going to give you some nice strong medicine now.

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That is morphine, 10mil.

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Chris is remarkably calm and worried about his watch!

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-Your watch is going to have to come off, kid.

-That's my favourite!

-Is it your favourite?

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-It's not your Rolex, though.

-Not a Rolex?

-No.

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James is alerting the micro-surgery team at Leeds General Infirmary.

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Their experts at treating injuries like this.

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He's a 40-year-old, stable and we'll be with you in approximately...

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15 minutes. ..Have we got the fingers to hand?

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Yes, in there.

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-They're in...

-They're in a bag, are they?

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Originally, they were just in a bag. I've put them in them.

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-Decent lengths?

-Yeah, they are.

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Fingers and hands, there's so many nerve endings, you get lots of pain,

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so I'm drawing up a second dose should we need it in flight.

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We are only going to be minutes to loading him, but it's just belt and braces.

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Left hand, three fingers.

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I'm left-handed an' all.

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The advantage of going to Leeds is there's specialist surgeons there.

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What we want them to do is we've got the option of reattaching them

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because it's happening so quick.

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40-year-old Chris's workmates haven't panicked - they collected up his fingers,

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-wrapped them in plastic and put them in ice.

-The little finger's hanging on.

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But the bone's all stuck out and everything.

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That's great. Thank you very much.

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-The patient won't want to see that.

-They've done a great job,

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but Sammy's worried they're too cold. Ice burns are a problem. They can kill healthy tissue.

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This is the gentleman's finger. I'll get rid of half of the ice.

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Then it won't fall out. At the moment, technically, it could receive an ice burn.

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-Been in a helicopter before?

-No.

-It gets really noisy.

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Chris is in shock, but time is ticking by. James knows every lost minute reduces the chances

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of a successful graft.

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Coming up: can doctors reattach Chris's severed fingers? He'll know in the next hour.

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Help arrives as the team are overwhelmed by the number of patients from a car crash.

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That's better.

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And the swimmer who didn't look before he leapt.

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Helimed crews are all volunteers.

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Paramedics are paid by the NHS, but some of the flying doctors actually give their time for free.

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Two wheels may be the greenest way to get around on the roads,

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but it's also among the most dangerous and Helimed 99 is going to an accident all paramedics dread.

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Car versus cyclist.

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If the person is unconscious, it's generally a head injury.

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25-year-old Ben Walker was thrown from his bike and landed on his head. He looks like he may have

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a serious head injury, despite his helmet.

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On the crew today is Dr Jez Pinnell, a hospital anaesthetist. His skills are badly needed.

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He's been unconscious since he came off the bike. He went straight over the handlebars.

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He's reacting a bit more now to pain. He's quite agitated.

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Ben is refusing to co-operate with his rescuers. It's behaviour that is completely out of character.

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-Ben?

-The patient was out for a spin on his new bike.

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He was wearing all the right gear and that probably saved his life.

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His helmet shows the force of the impact.

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The guy was really agitated. He's sustained nasty head injuries.

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Pupils equal and reactive at 5.

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-Has he spoke to you at all?

-No.

-Ben? Ben?

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Open your eyes, mate. Ben, stick your tongue out for me.

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I need to know you can hear me. Stick your tongue out if you can.

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The ground paramedics were with Ben within minutes of his fall on a quiet road outside Sheffield.

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They began the battle to stabilise his condition.

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Now it's up to the Helimed team to get him to hospital.

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-He's agitated.

-Right. We would put him off to sleep...

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Ben's showing all the signs of a brain injury. Patients with injuries like his can get agitated

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and difficult to control. In the air, that's dangerous.

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Straighten this arm out for me, Ben.

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That's it, Ben.

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Dr Jez faces anaesthetising his patient where he lies.

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Just drawing up something to sedate him. He's quite agitated.

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We can't get him out of that position to lie him flat.

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We need him flat to pop him off to sleep, so we'll give him something to numb him up a bit

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to get him in position to anaesthetise him.

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-You're absolutely fine.

-We need to take over his respiration.

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We get the lung so we do it instead of the patient.

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Once Jez has anaesthetised him, all respiratory effort will stop.

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We have to breathe for him.

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Now under sedation, Ben's about to be anaesthetised.

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He won't wake up until hospital doctors are satisfied his brain isn't damaged or has recovered.

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And that could be days or weeks.

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Ben?

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We're just going to pop you off to sleep and get you to hospital. OK?

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This is a procedure Dr Jez performs daily in hospital, but this is a long way from an operating theatre.

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Luckily, Paramedics Glen and Tony are trained to assist.

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Can you check his pupils?

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Just get this thing off his head.

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A breathing tube must be carefully slipped down Ben's windpipe.

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It's a delicate operation.

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Tube.

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There's quite a lot of blood in his airways.

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But they've done it.

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'It went quite smoothly for the side of a road.'

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Patient's now sedated. We can maintain an airway.

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The accident's happened a few miles from Sheffield's Northern General Hospital and its Trauma Unit,

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but sometimes the Helimed team bypass local hospitals to deliver patients to a specialist unit.

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Ben will instead be flown 40 miles to Leeds General Infirmary and its state-of-the-art neurological ward.

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It's a case of getting definitive care now at Leeds, which is where the Neuro ICU unit is.

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Ultimately, that's the place he needs to be to have a look at his head.

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The decision's a medical one, but it's unlikely to upset pilot Steve.

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The LGI has a rooftop helipad. The Northern General's landing site, like many more in Yorkshire,

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requires a tricky landing in the middle of trees and a bumpy land ambulance ride for the patient.

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The worry with patients like this is bleeding in the brain. That can be taken out by an operation.

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The quicker you get that done, the better. Not having to have a secondary transfer from hospital

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is a really good thing.

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Ben's now minutes away from specialist care, but brain injuries are hard to diagnose

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and only time will reveal the seriousness of his condition.

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It's six months since the accident that nearly killed him

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and Ben meets Paramedic Tony Wilkes, one of the team who saved his life.

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My first real memories are really vague.

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I remember phoning people up and then forgetting.

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It took a long time for friends, family and doctors to convince me

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that anything was wrong with me.

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I didn't see any cuts or bruises.

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It had been a long time. I didn't know what was going on.

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It was only when I couldn't walk I realised I wasn't doing so well.

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Your reduced levels of consciousness suggested that you had a bad head injury.

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There's a big debate about whether cycle helmets are worth it.

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I've been to so many where they've saved people.

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I've been lucky. I haven't needed a great deal of treatment.

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I've got a problem with my neck and back, but they operated on my face after the accident

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and for a couple of months I did a lot of work with psychologists

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and speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, et cetera.

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Medically, I was sort of declared brain dead at the scene of the accident.

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I believe people were phoned and told it was hit and miss whether I would make it.

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I think having the right team with the skills to do what they did,

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probably means I lasted longer than perhaps they thought I would and managed to make a recovery.

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Coming up: surgeons operate on a man who lost his fingers.

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Can you talk to me?

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And a teenager is struck dumb after a bizarre canoeing accident.

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Now let's return to the scene of that serious accident on a steep hill in North Yorkshire.

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On the edge of the North York moors,

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the crew of Helimed 99 are caring for the casualties of a serious accident. A family of five

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have been badly injured in a crash with a tractor.

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She's injured her abdomen.

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I'm going to get her flat on the board, get some oxygen on, pain relief and off to hospital.

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Now ground crews are arriving.

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Paramedic Pete Shaw is based 20 miles away, but he was just down the road when the 999 call came in.

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-Now he's joining the rescue operation.

-This car here.

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There's been side impact.

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All passengers were restrained, but not in paediatric seats.

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-Right.

-The little girl looks like she has a spleen injury.

-Right.

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Lee's just assessing the other kids. They seem fine.

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Dad's there and a little girl. They all seem fine.

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Five-year-old Samia Udin is the most serious casualty.

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Into the bed now. Oh, you're doing ever so well. We'll get a blanket to keep you warm.

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I've got air. It's a special necklace that goes right round.

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OK...

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Holidaymaker Sarah Quinn has been looking after her.

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She's not really answered.

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Paramedic Pete is helping Lee care for six-year-old Sanjida.

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-Six.

-Six?

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Sorry, six.

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They're worried about this deep cut to her head.

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Samia's dad Nizar was driving the family's car.

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I've had a good look at her and she's obviously wide awake...

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Little Tia, who's just two, is also hurt.

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-When she's had the seatbelt on, it's just bruised her tummy, so we'll take her to hospital.

-Right.

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Because I want her to be seen by the doctors there quickly.

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-He's absolutely fine. He's just getting a check-over and giving all the details.

-That'll do...

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Sanjida and Samia are now ready for a flight to hospital.

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It's time for Sarah to say goodbye to Samia.

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Take care.

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Her mum is now sheltering her from the rain, although she herself is hurt.

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We've got a second helicopter coming. It's just a case of landing sites at the moment.

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We're keeping ours. Ours is the most serious patient, so we want quick access once she's stabilised.

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The other helicopter will have to land a bit further down the road.

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The Great North Air Ambulance has been called in to fly Sanjida.

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Doctors at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough are already on standby to examine both girls.

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Coming up, doctors assess Samia's condition

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and her rescuer waits for news.

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As a mother, it hit me how awful it was and how scared they were. She was absolutely petrified.

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And in the heatwave, a swim ends in agony.

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He came back up and had blood all over his face.

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Imagine losing your fingers!

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It's the nightmare faced by one man after an accident at work

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and he's just about to find out if the doctors can graft them back on.

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Factory worker Chris Hewitt has severed three fingers while using an industrial saw.

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His little finger is only just attached to his hand

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and his ring and middle fingers have been cut clean off.

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What we've got at the moment is that little finger just in between your knuckle and your finger.

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That was a partial amputation and these two are just here.

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The fingers that have come off look in good nick.

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This is where Helimed 98 comes into its own. Chris is minutes from surgery.

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But James is still pumping him for information. The smallest details can help the surgeons.

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-Is it like a saw or a circular, spinning...?

-A circular saw.

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-I thought it had gone back and I went to pull one forward.

-Ouch!

0:24:030:24:07

My hand's gone into the blade.

0:24:070:24:09

The saw that removed his fingers made a clean cut. That's good.

0:24:090:24:15

But the accident happened on a factory floor. Infection is a real risk and that's bad.

0:24:150:24:20

There's going to be a lot of people here who are wanting to have a look at you. Just try and be patient.

0:24:200:24:27

Six floors below the Leeds General Infirmary helipad,

0:24:270:24:30

an operating theatre is already being prepared for Chris.

0:24:300:24:34

Afternoon.

0:24:340:24:37

Microsurgeons can now re-connect severed nerves and tiny blood vessels,

0:24:370:24:42

but it's more art than science.

0:24:420:24:45

You're just going in to see the doctors now.

0:24:450:24:48

The team don't know whether Chris has seen the last of his fingers.

0:24:480:24:52

Nice and steady, pal. Just swing your legs across first. That's it.

0:24:520:24:56

This is Christopher, 40-year-old male, been on a cross-cutter like a circular saw that cuts wood.

0:24:560:25:02

He got his hand in between it.

0:25:020:25:04

He's got a full amputation proximal to his IPJ on his ring and middle finger

0:25:040:25:10

and partial amputation on his little finger.

0:25:100:25:13

Fingers have both been on ice since amputation.

0:25:130:25:16

Within an hour of his arrival, Chris was being operated on.

0:25:160:25:20

Surgeons devised a complex repair using what was left of his fingers and skin taken from his arm.

0:25:200:25:27

And three days later, he's out of danger.

0:25:270:25:30

If they hadn't got me here as fast as they did and my fingers,

0:25:300:25:35

they probably wouldn't have got them back on.

0:25:350:25:38

My middle finger and my ring finger were severed fully off.

0:25:380:25:42

I damaged that one there.

0:25:420:25:44

So they had to do skin grafts, nerve and vein graft,

0:25:440:25:48

on them two, I think.

0:25:480:25:50

I got a skin graft off my arm and off the top of my leg and veins and nerves out of my feet.

0:25:500:25:56

It could take up to 12 months to get my feeling back, but I'll never have full movement on it.

0:25:560:26:02

I'll never be able to make a fist like that. She said I'll be able to do that at most, but not that,

0:26:020:26:08

which I'm happy with. As long as my fingers are there.

0:26:080:26:11

I'd sooner have fingers there than none at all.

0:26:110:26:14

But it'll get there eventually. I'll just keep persevering with it.

0:26:140:26:19

Chris still remembers the moment he realised he'd lost his fingers.

0:26:190:26:24

I felt the pain, so I knew I'd done some damage.

0:26:240:26:27

So I've cut my hand, my left hand,

0:26:270:26:30

and I shouted to my friend.

0:26:300:26:32

Then I looked and I saw my finger on t'bench.

0:26:320:26:36

I just said, "Get my finger and make sure it goes on some ice."

0:26:360:26:41

It's still touch and go for Chris.

0:26:410:26:43

Re-attachment can fail.

0:26:430:26:46

But three weeks after the accident,

0:26:460:26:48

he's back at the LGI to have his hand examined by the doctors who saved it.

0:26:480:26:53

-How are things going?

-Looking good.

0:26:530:26:56

The fingers that Christopher brought in were in good condition.

0:26:560:27:00

The little finger was still attached on,

0:27:000:27:03

so we could fix that on with a wire.

0:27:030:27:05

The middle and ring fingers had good bone structure.

0:27:050:27:09

And he had good blood vessels and tendons,

0:27:090:27:12

so it was possible to put them back on and we were lucky that worked.

0:27:120:27:16

Sometimes it stings a little bit, but it's not something I can't cope with.

0:27:160:27:21

I've not had really any pain from it at all, from doing it.

0:27:210:27:25

The downside is that some of his knuckles have been fused,

0:27:250:27:29

so he'll lose a bit of movement with that.

0:27:290:27:32

Unfortunately, he had cut them off through the joint,

0:27:320:27:36

so we couldn't save the joint surface there.

0:27:360:27:39

But he's done really well so far and it'll be over to rehabilitation

0:27:390:27:43

with the physiotherapist and the occupational therapist to try and get as much movement as possible.

0:27:430:27:49

Coming up, hospital doctors start work on the family whose day out ended in a terrible accident.

0:27:520:27:58

Heat can take its toll on the fittest person if you fail to take sensible precautions

0:28:050:28:11

like drinking plenty of water and seeking shelter from the sun.

0:28:110:28:15

But those things are often easier said than done.

0:28:150:28:18

It's the beginning of the holiday season

0:28:180:28:21

and thousands of tourists head for the sun from Leeds Bradford Airport.

0:28:210:28:26

If they had known how hot it would be at home, they might have not bothered booking.

0:28:260:28:31

It's approaching 30 degrees Celsius and across the runway, the Helimed team is feeling the heat too.

0:28:310:28:38

'Police are advising the patient has a serious back injury and is also complaining of chest pain.'

0:28:380:28:44

At least Helimed 99 is heading for the beach today.

0:28:450:28:49

A policeman riding a quad bike has been badly hurt in an accident

0:28:490:28:53

in the dunes at Formby beach in Lancashire.

0:28:530:28:56

Quad bikers can tend to come off

0:28:560:28:58

because they tip their bikes over backwards,

0:28:580:29:02

so they go up a hill that's too steep, lean back and pull the bike over on top of them.

0:29:020:29:07

Helimed 99 to Coastguard Rescue Team. Are you receiving? Over.

0:29:070:29:12

'This is the Coastguard down on the beach. If you'd like to spin your way round

0:29:120:29:17

'and make your way north along the front of the beach, our units are on the beach.

0:29:170:29:23

'There is two vehicles and a quad headed in your direction. Over.'

0:29:230:29:27

These sands are very popular in hot weather

0:29:270:29:31

and the cop was being trained to carry out summer patrols on the sand when the accident happened.

0:29:310:29:37

His colleagues fear he's broken his back.

0:29:370:29:40

The west coast has some of the UK's fastest rising tides,

0:29:400:29:44

so pilot Andy's not shutting down the engines just in case.

0:29:440:29:48

We have four quad bikes and a Land Rover to patrol the beach to reassure the public.

0:29:490:29:55

Unfortunately, one of our officers has gone over the handlebars of his quad bike. I just hope he's OK.

0:29:550:30:01

So while Al and Tony are working out how to treat their patient,

0:30:010:30:06

Andy must keep a weather eye on the tide and the other on his instrument panel.

0:30:060:30:11

We've got a male with a probable spinal injury. I'll get back with some specific details shortly.

0:30:110:30:17

But we'll take this patient to Southport Hospital which has got a spinal unit.

0:30:170:30:22

Luckily, the injured cop has been well cared for by local paramedics,

0:30:220:30:27

so he'll soon be ready for his flight.

0:30:270:30:30

Doctors are already preparing to scan his spine.

0:30:300:30:33

Whatever the outcome of those tests, he's unlikely to be patrolling the sands this summer.

0:30:330:30:39

When the heat is on, it's tempting to cool off in water.

0:30:390:30:43

But beware, that has its dangers too.

0:30:430:30:46

The people of Yorkshire are choosing ever more unusual places to cool off.

0:30:460:30:52

Now Helimed 98 is on the way to a nature reserve where there's been a nasty accident.

0:30:520:30:57

One of the jobs suggested this morning was that we'd be going

0:30:570:31:01

to one of the inland waterways

0:31:010:31:03

for an incident with people trying to cool off in this very nice weather.

0:31:030:31:07

Flying doctor Ben Wyatt's skills could be badly needed.

0:31:070:31:11

With any head injury, you have to suspect a spine injury.

0:31:110:31:15

It's called the mechanism of injury

0:31:150:31:17

and it's not uncommon with these diving incidents,

0:31:170:31:21

so with the recovery, we have to be careful.

0:31:210:31:24

Ground paramedics fear 24-year-old Brett Roberts has broken his neck.

0:31:240:31:28

They called in the chopper because moving him by road across uneven ground could worsen the injury.

0:31:280:31:35

Keep nice and still for us, mate.

0:31:350:31:37

Brett dived into a pool that's much more shallow than it looks.

0:31:370:31:41

People here have said he's had about half a can of alcohol.

0:31:410:31:45

He dived straight in and hit his head. He's got a 10, 15 centimetre laceration.

0:31:450:31:51

We've only just come down. He just jumped over t'fence.

0:31:510:31:54

He jumped in, then came back up and had blood all over his face.

0:31:540:31:58

Then he managed to swim out

0:31:580:32:01

and we just all got to him.

0:32:010:32:04

Then we just phoned you straight away.

0:32:050:32:08

Fairburn Ings is a legacy of the local mining industry.

0:32:090:32:13

Now it's a bird reserve, but dozens of local people have come here to cool off.

0:32:130:32:18

-So he jumped maybe two metres into the water?

-Well, it used to be deep.

0:32:180:32:22

Ready, steady, roll.

0:32:220:32:24

Lovely.

0:32:240:32:26

We all went to the corner and got him out, then we just rang you up to come and pick him up.

0:32:260:32:33

We didn't know what else to do. We just laid him down and applied pressure to his cut.

0:32:330:32:38

His symptoms are worrying. Tingling or numbness can be signs of spinal damage.

0:32:380:32:43

-Wiggle your feet for me.

-The Helimed team isn't taking any chances.

0:32:430:32:47

Brett will be flown direct to a spinal unit for X-rays and a scan.

0:32:470:32:52

He's got quite a large scalp laceration.

0:32:520:32:55

But that doesn't... That shouldn't be life-threatening.

0:32:550:32:59

We're just more concerned about his cervical spine at this stage.

0:32:590:33:03

He's had some tingling sensations in one hand, so we take all precautions until it's proved otherwise.

0:33:030:33:10

Paramedic Glen likes to keep his bedside manner cheerful,

0:33:100:33:13

even when the injuries could be very serious.

0:33:130:33:17

I'll shine a little torch in. Just keep looking at me. I know I'm ugly.

0:33:170:33:21

You don't have to agree so readily!

0:33:210:33:24

But paramedic Pete is spelling out symptoms that will ring alarm bells in A&E.

0:33:240:33:30

He's complaining of C-spine pain

0:33:300:33:33

and complaining of some sensory deficit in both arms.

0:33:330:33:39

He's reacting to stimulation, but he says both arms feel heavy.

0:33:390:33:44

In less than five minutes, their patient will be in expert hands.

0:33:460:33:52

Pinderfields Hospital at Wakefield has its own spinal unit.

0:33:520:33:57

Your neck's really hurting? It won't help being on that board, but we'll get you straight in.

0:33:570:34:02

-Can you still wiggle those feet for me? OK. Can you touch both your hands together?

-Yeah.

0:34:020:34:08

-Can you feel yourself doing that?

-Yeah.

-Have you got any pins and needles anywhere?

0:34:080:34:13

-In my arms a little bit.

-A little bit in your arms?

0:34:130:34:17

The team knows one careless moment could alter Brett's life for ever.

0:34:170:34:21

The next 24 hours will reveal the truth, but he's lucky.

0:34:210:34:25

Apart from a very nasty cut to his head, his neck is just bruised.

0:34:250:34:30

With the right precautions, water sports are a great way to cool off.

0:34:320:34:37

And the heatwave has come at just the right time for the lucky schools enjoying adventure training

0:34:370:34:43

at the Rother Valley Country Park near Sheffield.

0:34:430:34:48

But there's one teenager wishing he'd never got into a canoe today

0:34:480:34:52

and paramedic Kate Drye is on her way to meet him.

0:34:520:34:55

We've just had a call to go to Rother Valley Country Park,

0:34:550:34:59

which is really near where we're based in Sheffield, for a canoeist

0:34:590:35:03

who has come out of his canoe and may be unconscious.

0:35:030:35:07

-It's where the water is?

-That's the one, yeah.

0:35:070:35:10

16-year-old Joel Hassan was knocked out when his canoe flipped up and hit him on the head.

0:35:100:35:16

Can I see a spinal board on that motor boat, Kate?

0:35:160:35:19

Uh...

0:35:200:35:22

-Yeah, it looks like it, doesn't it?

-Yeah.

0:35:220:35:25

Do you want to stick it somewhere down there, Andy, and we'll ask?

0:35:250:35:29

It's going to be down there somewhere. It's whether he's in the water or not.

0:35:290:35:34

Teachers saw the bizarre accident happen.

0:35:340:35:38

What he's done is he's capsized out of his canoe, banged his head.

0:35:380:35:43

-He's been unconscious for about two minutes.

-Is he still unconscious?

-Not now, no.

0:35:430:35:48

He's conscious. He's responding to me talking to him...

0:35:480:35:52

Joel was lucky his accident was seen. He was on deep water when it happened.

0:35:520:35:57

He was in the water floating about. We said, "Are you all right?" He said, "Yeah, I'm OK."

0:35:570:36:03

He went quiet and that's not like Joel, so we knew something was wrong.

0:36:030:36:07

You were out paddling and you were paddling along with your friend.

0:36:070:36:11

-He slipped. It would seem he hit his head on the boat, rather than the paddle.

-He hit his head on the boat.

0:36:110:36:17

-So he's not been under the water at all at any time?

-Definitely not.

0:36:170:36:21

But he did go out cold for maybe about a minute and a half.

0:36:210:36:25

But Kate's worried about Joel's unwillingness to communicate.

0:36:250:36:29

It's out of character and an unusual symptom.

0:36:290:36:33

Joel, can you talk to me? Do you know whereabouts you are?

0:36:330:36:37

Can you remember anything that's happened?

0:36:370:36:40

-You can?

-Joel, don't nod your head. Try and say yes or no.

0:36:400:36:44

Try and keep it nice and still. Can you tell me where you are? Can you speak to me?

0:36:440:36:50

Give it a go? What's your date of birth?

0:36:500:36:54

Can you tell me how old you are?

0:36:550:36:57

Joel is still not talking.

0:36:570:36:59

-Has he spoken to you since...?

-No.

0:36:590:37:02

Before all this happened, is he normally quite compos mentis?

0:37:020:37:06

Yes. You're one of my brightest students, aren't you? On a good day!

0:37:060:37:10

Keep your head still for us, Joel. Have you got any pain anywhere?

0:37:100:37:14

But at last, Kate gets an answer.

0:37:140:37:17

Have you got any pain in your chest or your tummy?

0:37:170:37:20

Can you tell me where it's hurting?

0:37:200:37:23

-In my head.

-In your head?

0:37:240:37:27

Can you just give Sheffield Children's a ring and see if they're happy to take a 16-year-old?

0:37:270:37:33

Helimed 98 took less than three minutes to respond to the 999 call from instructors at the park.

0:37:330:37:40

The speed of the team's response surprised everyone.

0:37:400:37:43

We were just getting over to the side and we heard the helicopter.

0:37:430:37:48

And you're thinking, "That can't be the helicopter yet." And it turned out it was.

0:37:480:37:53

Yeah, it's very speedy.

0:37:530:37:55

Less than 20 minutes after his accident, Joel is being examined by doctors.

0:37:570:38:02

They'll diagnose concussion and little more.

0:38:020:38:05

It was his first time canoeing, but he's keen to try it again.

0:38:050:38:10

And a few weeks later, Joel is back at Rother Valley,

0:38:100:38:14

recovered from the concussion that followed his accident, this time staying upright.

0:38:140:38:19

He has few memories of the half hour following the blow to his head.

0:38:190:38:24

I went to turn and I just tipped over in the canoe.

0:38:240:38:28

Cos I landed feet first, my head was still up

0:38:280:38:31

and the canoe just landed on top of me.

0:38:310:38:34

I don't remember anything else,

0:38:340:38:36

apart from waking up in the helicopter.

0:38:360:38:39

I'm grateful for everyone that was here

0:38:390:38:43

and that gave it the time to help me and the helicopter people that came.

0:38:430:38:48

I'm just glad that it all went the way it did cos it could have been a lot worse.

0:38:480:38:54

I'm pleased to tell you all our patients have recovered from the heatwave.

0:38:540:38:59

Now let's catch up on the family caught up in a serious road accident on a day out.

0:38:590:39:04

On a steep hill near the market town of Thirsk,

0:39:040:39:08

the flying paramedics are preparing to take off with the young victim of a serious car crash.

0:39:080:39:14

Holidaymaker Sarah Quinn has been looking after five-year-old Samia. Now she's on her way to hospital.

0:39:140:39:21

The Great North Air Ambulance will take her six-year-old sister Sanjida to the same unit.

0:39:210:39:27

You're doing ever so well. I know it's very noisy. That's the other helicopter for your sister, OK?

0:39:270:39:33

Mum's just coming in a minute, OK?

0:39:330:39:35

Pilot Chris landed in a back garden of a house just off the busy A170.

0:39:380:39:43

No-one was in.

0:39:430:39:45

The dents three tonnes of chopper have left in the lawn may cause some confusion when they get home.

0:39:450:39:51

We think she's got an abdominal injury.

0:39:510:39:55

Her tummy's been injured by the seatbelt, but she's stable.

0:39:550:39:59

She's had strong pain relief and she seems much more settled.

0:39:590:40:02

Samia could be very badly hurt. She's told flying doctor Simon Ward that her tummy's hurting.

0:40:020:40:09

He fears she could have internal injuries.

0:40:090:40:12

We're just getting her to one of the trauma centres as soon as possible,

0:40:120:40:16

so that she can be further evaluated.

0:40:160:40:19

The James Cook Hospital is home to one of the north's best trauma units.

0:40:190:40:24

In a few minutes, Samia will be undergoing tests and scans on her tummy.

0:40:240:40:29

Normally, we'd land on the helipad.

0:40:290:40:31

This time we've landed on the grass to make way for the other helicopter.

0:40:310:40:35

We've left them on the scene with the second patient.

0:40:350:40:39

They'll be able to land on the helipad. They're a wheeled aircraft

0:40:390:40:43

and we've got skids, so it just allows us a bit more flexibility.

0:40:430:40:47

Her six-year-old sister Sanjida is just minutes behind her.

0:40:470:40:51

Despite the huge forces involved in the crash, there's a happy ending.

0:40:510:40:56

Neither sister has more than cuts and bruises.

0:40:560:40:59

And the family is soon reunited to the relief of holidaymaker Sarah Quinn

0:40:590:41:05

whose reassuring presence helped all the victims in the first minutes after the crash.

0:41:050:41:11

It was quite a shocking scene to see and they were so upset and all covered in blood.

0:41:110:41:16

It was really, really horrible.

0:41:160:41:19

The child that I went to was a very similar age to my son who's five.

0:41:190:41:23

It was just harrowing to see how upset she was.

0:41:230:41:26

As a mother, it just really hit me how awful it was and how scared they were.

0:41:260:41:33

She was absolutely petrified.

0:41:330:41:35

Her eyes kept lolling back in her head and I was really worried that something was seriously wrong.

0:41:350:41:42

I was just holding this tiny child and she just seemed so fragile

0:41:420:41:46

and so in pain and she was crying, she was hurting.

0:41:460:41:49

It was just...just awful.

0:41:490:41:52

The accident has left Sarah with traumatic memories of the crash

0:41:520:41:56

on one of Yorkshire's busiest holiday routes.

0:41:560:41:59

Our friends have invited us to go to the east coast in a couple of months.

0:41:590:42:03

We're going to go, but we're going to take a different route. There's no way I'll go on Sutton Bank again.

0:42:030:42:09

And Samia's family say they'll never forget the stranger who cared for their little girl.

0:42:090:42:16

That's all from me for this series. I'll be back next year with more stories of real-life rescues,

0:42:160:42:22

carried out by Yorkshire's Helicopter Heroes. Thanks for watching.

0:42:220:42:26

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2010

0:42:360:42:40

Email [email protected]

0:42:400:42:43

Documentary series focusing on the work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. A family day out ends in a serious car smash, and two mothers become amateur medics to treat four injured children.


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