The safety of Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) crew members has come under threat as laser attacks escalated last weekend.
The latest in the spate of attacks resulted in a serious eye injury to one crewmember.
Recent Escalation in Incidents
Over the span of a week, YAA experienced three separate laser attacks, marking an alarming escalation in these incidents.
The most recent incident which occurred during a transit flight back to their Nostell airbase, resulted in a concerning injury to one of their Technical Crew Members, Alex Clark.
A laser beam struck Alex directly in one of his eyes, causing a painful corneal burn. While Alex is now on the path to recovery, his ordeal serves as a reminder of the real and immediate threats faced by YAA’s crew members.
These deliberate acts not only endanger the lives of YAA’s dedicated crew members but have also jeopardized the safety of the patients they strive to assist.
No Pattern to Attacks
What makes these laser attacks all the more confounding is their seemingly random and intermittent nature. There appears to be no discernible pattern or motive behind these acts of senseless stupidity.
The safety of YAA’s crews and the patients they are dedicated to serving is of paramount importance, and these attacks undeniably constitute a grave threat to both.
Yorkshire Air Ambulance Chief Pilot, Owen McTeggart, highlights the potential for severe consequences of laser attacks on air ambulance operations.
He explains, “If we encounter a laser attack while attempting to land at the scene of an incident, it renders us unable to land, thus depriving the injured person on the ground of the critical care we are there to provide.”
“Even if the laser itself doesn’t make contact with the eyes, it poses a significant distraction for the crew during a crucial stage of flight, causing immense distress.”
McTeggart further emphasizes, “Much of this stems from ignorance regarding the implications these attacks can have on our operations. Many individuals who point lasers at helicopters may view it as a harmless prank with no real consequences.”
“However, in some cases, it can result in life-altering consequences for the pilot, the crew, and, in the case of an air ambulance, the patient in the back whose life they are striving to save.”
A Plea for Responsibility
Mike Harrop, YAA Chairman, issued a heartfelt plea to those responsible for these attacks, urging them to contemplate the gravity of their actions and the potential harm they are causing.
He asserts, “The safety and well-being of YAA’s dedicated crew members and patients are non-negotiable priorities.”
“Our crew should never have to fear flying on a shift at YAA simply because someone, somewhere finds it amusing to shine lasers at aircraft or is ignorant of the dangers they are subjecting our crew to.”
“Whether YAA is being intentionally targeted or mistaken for another helicopter, it is entirely unacceptable for one of our crew members to suffer an injury due to someone else’s reckless actions.”
Joining Forces to Protect Lifesavers
In response to these concerning incidents, YAA calls upon the support of the communities it serves. It is imperative to raise awareness about the grave dangers associated with shining lasers at aircraft.
Anyone with information related to these attacks is encouraged to come forward and contact the police.
In doing so, community members can safeguard the invaluable work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance team, and also the lives of others on the ground and those they strive to save.
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