Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) has recently seen a rapid escalation in laser attacks.
Over the course of a single week, the air ambulance service has been subjected to three separate and deliberate laser assaults, with the latest attack resulting in an injury to one of its crew members.
On Friday evening during a transit flight back to their Nostell air base, YAA Technical Crew Member Alex Clark became the unfortunate victim of the most recent laser strike. Horrifically, the laser beam managed to hit Alex in one of his eyes, resulting in a burn on his cornea. Although he is now on a path to a full recovery, his injury poignantly emphasizes the very real threats faced by YAA’s crewmembers.
YAA Chief Pilot Owen McTeggart said: “It doesn’t take much for the eyes to be permanently damaged by a laser, and while the laser itself might not be a danger if it doesn’t contact the eyes, it is a massive distraction for the crew during a critical stage of flight and causes much distress.
“A lot of it is ignorance to the implications it can have on our operations. And I’m sure most people that point a laser at a helicopter think it’s just a laugh and no harm is caused. But it can, in some cases, have life-changing consequences for the pilot, the crew, and – if it’s an air ambulance under threat – the patient in the back whose life they are trying to save.”
Mike Harrop, YAA Chairman, added: “The safety and wellbeing of YAA’s dedicated crewmembers and patients are non-negotiable priorities. Our crew shouldn’t feel fearful of flying on a shift at YAA, all because someone somewhere finds it amusing to shine lasers at aircraft, or they are ignorant to the dangers they are putting our crew in.”
YAA now calls upon its supporters throughout the local communities it serves to assist in raising awareness of the dangers of shining lasers at aircraft. Anyone with information related to these attacks is urged to come forward and contact the police and help ensure that such incidents do not happen again.