Third air ambulance for Grand Depart

Yorkshire Air Ambulance
Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) will have an extra helicopter operational when the Tour de France comes to Calderdale next month.

The region’s only emergency helicopter service has announced plans to operate a third aircraft for the week leading up to the Grand Depart as well when the event comes to Yorkshire on July 5 and 6.

The third aircraft will complement and assist the already established two helicopters that the charity currently operates.

Speaking about their plans, the YAA’s Chief Pilot, Captain Andy Lister said: “During the summer months, we always see an increase in our operational activities.

“As the population swells with tourists and local residents being on holiday, the likelihood of accidents happening increases, and in many cases, the air ambulance needs to be utilised.

“Not only will we have normal day to day incidents to cover, but we will also have the increased visitor numbers expected leading up to and during the Grand Depart in early July.

“Although the Tour de France provides their own medical assistance for competitors, there will be the spectators and the local people who live along the route, and this is one of the many reasons why we have taken the decision to bring in a third helicopter to give us increased cover during this period.

“There will also be access problems with roads being closed as well as much of the route travelling through remote areas of Yorkshire where access can also sometimes be problematic.

“We will be working alongside all of the emergency services and mountain rescue teams during this period, with support as necessary.”

The two current YAA helicopters are based at the Nostell Estate, near Wakefield, and at RAF Topcliffe, near Thirsk, respectively. The third helicopter will be operational from stand-by points at pre-identified and surveyed locations close-by to and along the route.

Captain Lister added “We have been extremely fortunate to have been offered great support from some local land owners who been very kind to allow us an area of their land to operate our helicopter from during certain stages of the race.

“On day one, we will be up in North Yorkshire near Richmond at Wathgill Camp, and on day two we will be close to the village of Ripponden near Halifax.

“We hope that by positioning ourselves close to the route we will be in the best possible position to respond to emergency calls.”