UK helicopter emergency medical service charity Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) has taken delivery of its brand new H145 D3 Helicopter, the first of its kind to come directly off the production line in Germany and into the UK.
The new model has a whole host of technologically advanced features that will make the service more efficient. Most noticeable is a five-bladed ridged main rotor, making the system simpler, lighter and easier to maintain than the previous rotor. The five-bladed rotor system will also help to significantly reduce vibrations, considerably improving ride quality for both patients and the crew.
In addition, the aircraft has an integrated camera system that allows the pilot to see behind and below, making take offs and landings safer. With the addition of the cameras, crew will now be able to load patients into the helicopter with the rotors still turning, allowing for a quicker and more efficient process for incidents where time is critical.
Onboard wi-fi will also allow patient records to be updated in flight, and a cutting-edge secure communications system means crew can send patient data ahead to the destination hospital so that doctors and nurses can start evaluating and assessing the patient before they arrive.
In the cabin, the YAA doctors and paramedics are most excited about the new wheeled stretcher system that will make loading and unloading patients into the aircraft a much easier process; the stretcher takes most of the weight of the patient, as opposed to the manual lifting the crew are currently used to.
The two current YAA helicopters, G-YAAC and G-YOAA, came into service in 2016 and will be phased out within the next 12 months. The first of the new helicopters, G-YAAA, started active duty at the end of March and the second, G-YORX, will join the service soon.
Director of aviation Steve Waudby explains: "It is very exciting for us to announce the arrival of our new H145 D3 helicopter. The big difference you'll notice is that it has five rotor blades, which means it's a lot smoother. It's also slightly lighter, because the anti-vibration equipment has been removed, which means we can carry another half an hour's worth of aviation fuel, allowing us to stay airborne and go to a lot more jobs before we have to return to base to refuel."
As an independent charity, Yorkshire Air Ambulance relies on the generosity of the public and its fundraising efforts to continue its lifesaving work. It currently costs £19,000 per day to maintain and operate the YAA's two Airbus H145 helicopters, based at Nostell Priory in Wakefield and RAF Topcliffe near Thirsk.
Waudby continues: "On behalf of everyone at YAA, we thank the good people of Yorkshire who have provided us with the vital funds to be able to purchase our new helicopters. Our aim has always been to provide the best possible air ambulance service, and by upgrading our helicopters we can continue to ensure we are future-proofing and modernising our operations and service delivery."
Senior HEMS paramedic Sammy Wills, who has over 30 years of experience in emergency response medicine, 20 of which have been with the air ambulance service, adds: "The arrival of the new helicopter has been the talk of the base for some time, and now it's here, all shiny and new, we just can't wait to start flying in it.
"For me, as a paramedic, the first thing that stands out is the new stretcher, it keeps us self-sufficient. We no longer have to wait on the helipad at major trauma hospitals for a trolley to be brought to us; the new system allows us to just wheel our patients directly into the emergency department, getting them the treatment they need that much quicker."
Over 8,500 people across Yorkshire have received lifesaving care by the quick action of Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service over the past 23 years.