New training techniques of Yorkshire Air Ambulance improve chances of survival for injured casualties

PARAMEDICS are trekking through a dark forest searching for a critically injured casualty with a broken neck, who is in a hard to reach location.

Every second is crucial for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance crew when flying to rescue someone, who is often in a life-threatening condition.

But this scenario is not for real. It is part of the new state-of-the-art training facilities at the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) base in Nostell, near Wakefield.

Now the Yorkshire crew is benefitting from the new simulation training, based in a 360 degree ‘virtual reality’ room, which can be adapted to any setting possible, such as inside a chemical factory, a football stadium, on the train tracks or on top of a mountain.

It is thought to be the most advanced medical training techniques available in the UK - and “is already making a difference to response time and performance”, say YAA bosses.

Matthew Syrat, clinical operations manager for the YAA, said: “It is fair to say that we see patients on the worst days of their lives.

“We want to train our paramedics to make sure that it is not the first time we see the conditions that these patients are experiencing.

“Our new state-of-the-art simulation suite is going to ensure that we are prepared for every eventuality and that we can deliver with the utmost professionalism, sensitivity and care that we can.”

After receiving an emergency call, the H145 yellow helicopter is usually heading to the location within two minutes, as the team is on standby 24 hours a day to react to serious incidents.

Crews are currently training daily using a variety of unusual locations in the simulator and also places which are commonly attended, such as the side of the motorway or an isolated rural location, for a climbing or horse-riding accident.

A number of life like soft weighted mannequins have been specially made, complete with realistic injuries.

The new kit, which includes the latest ‘no hands’ defibrillators, is already improving performance.

At the launch of the new equipment at an event for health chiefs from across the region and invited guests, crews put on a scenario display, introducing a set of new life like mannequins.

One of the mannequins is named Vivienne, a model based on an elderly lady, who had collapsed at home after a cardiac arrest.

YAA chief Mr Syrat added: “It is already proving to be life changing in terms of our training.

“We can create literally any kind of scenario. This has simply not been possible before. Our team has a vast wealth of experience but to be able to prepare for situations in this way is a first.”

The swift medical interventions have a major impact on a patient’s chance of survival and subsequent quality of life.

Peter Sunderland, chairman of YAA, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to support our air crew, paramedics and doctors with our state-of-the-art simulation training suite.

“We know that this invaluable facility will enable our crews to provide the best possible service for the people of Yorkshire.

“The swift medical interventions provided by our air ambulance crews have a major impact on a patient’s chance of survival and subsequent quality of life.

“Yorkshire has a vast topography that not only includes remote, rural and densely populated areas but also includes major motorways and road networks such as the M62, M1, A1 and M18.”

Mr Sunderland said that to keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances operating they needed to raise £12,000 every day.

This is equivalent to £4.4 million per year. As a rapid response air emergency service the Charity serves a population of approximately 5 million people across 4 million acres.

The two air ambulances operate from the Nostell Priory Estate near Wakefield and RAF Topcliffe near Thirsk, and together cover the whole of the region.


The YAA, a charity which was set up in 2000, is on call for serious incidents where casualties need urgent medical help.

The team, which reacts to an average of four serious incidents a day, can reach locations within minutes, beating congested roads or getting to isolated rural areas.

Patients are transferred to the nearest major trauma centre, flying at speeds of up to 160 mph.

The YAA paramedics are seconded by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

The YAA are currently starring in the UKTV series ‘Emergency ER’ which is broadcast on ‘Really TV’.

The YAA currently attend well over 1,400 incidents a year, an average of 4 every single day.

To date, nearly 7,800 patients have been carried to relevant treatment centres, often for life-saving treatment.

Each of the YAA helicopters are currently available on an average of 10 per day, with availability extending to 15 hours per day during the summer months.

The average dispatch time is around 2 to 3 minutes. This is from the 999 call coming in to the helicopter taking off for departure.

90% of Yorkshire live within a 20 minute flying time from either of the YAA’s two air bases.