Flying medics take the controls

Paramedics and pilots from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) recently put their flying skills to the test by training in a helicopter flight simulator.

The crew visited RAF Linton-on-Ouse during one of their bi-monthly clinical governance days to help the paramedics learn how to safely land a helicopter, in the event of an emergency.

Tim West, GNAAS paramedic said: “Our helicopters have dual controls so if for any reason the pilot is out of action we can take over and try to make a safe crash landing. The chances are obviously minimal, but it pays to be prepared.

“Drones have become a big risk, as when we’re up in the air we might encounter a drone which could crash through the window and incapacitate the pilot.

“Other circumstances could be that the pilot has fainted or had a medical collapse, so we’ll have to handle the controls and safely manoeuvre a helicopter to land it. The training has helped us familiarise ourselves with the controls a bit more.”

Jamie Walsh, GNAAS paramedic said: “We use the clinical governance days to review recent cases, update our clinical training, and look at new clinical developments.

“The flight simulation training was a good experience and I was impressed by how life like the simulator was compared to a helicopter.

“Even though it is a simulator you still tense up when you’re doing it, especially because there are 20 people around you watching what you’re doing, but it was good fun.”

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