Yorkshire Air Ambulance has a new chopper in the skies ... and unlike its predecessors can fly at night.
The £6m Airbus H145 helicopter has this week started to carry its first patients.
YAA chiefs say it will carry out almost a third more missions each year and so can potentially save even more lives.
The first jobs for the crew of the new H145 included a fall from height near Lofthouse, and a horse rider from High Hoyland near Barnsley who needed transferring to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment.
It is based at Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s flagship Nostell Air Support Unit near Wakefield.
A second H145 has been ordered from Airbus and will be operational by the end of the year, flying from the rapid response emergency charity’s northern base at RAF Topcliffe, near Thirsk.
The new aircraft gives exceptional flight performance and will have significantly lower operational and maintenance costs. The H145 is used by military, police and air rescue services throughout the world.
Yorkshire Air Ambulance has been planning the replacement of its two ageing MD902 Explorer aircraft for several years. The purchase and fitting out costs have been met through planned savings, grants, careful budgeting and the amazing generosity of the people of Yorkshire.
YAA chairman Peter Sunderland said: “It was a hugely exciting and very proud day for us and the people of Yorkshire.
“As a charity we had been working towards this day for so long. Many years of careful planning, research, saving and budgeting have gone into the process to ensure we have chosen the right aircraft for the people of Yorkshire.
“This helicopter belongs to the people of Yorkshire and will do for the next 20 to 25 years. I am very proud to say we now have a level of service which is probably the best of any air ambulance charity in the UK.”
Air ambulance doctors and paramedics have been involved from the start in the medical fit out of the H145s which provide a much larger cabin area to treat patients in flight and will carry the latest medical equipment.
Paul Gowland, YAA Director of Fundraising, said: “For the people of Yorkshire to raise the amount of money they do to enable us to buy these new aircraft is just astonishing.
“The H145 will enable us to fly an increase of 30% more missions a year, to take an extra 30% more people to major trauma centres and potentially 30% more people will be alive.”
Yorkshire Air Ambulance still needs to raise £12,000 every single day to keep its helicopters flying. The charity serves five million people across Yorkshire, attending on average, more than 1,000 incidents a year.
YAA is an independent charity needing to raise £12,000 per day to keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances in the air and maintained. This is equivalent to £4.4m each year.
The YAA provides a life saving rapid response emergency service 365 days a year to 5 million people across 4 million acres of Yorkshire.
We operate two helicopters that operate from Nostell Priory near Wakefield and RAF Topcliffe, near Thirsk.
Patients are transferred to the nearest major trauma centres, flying at speeds of up to 160mph.
YAA paramedics and dispatchers are seconded to us by Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
We currently attend over 1,000 missions a year, an average of three incidents every single day.
To date, over 6,900 patients have been carried to relevant treatment centres.