AS the coronavirus crisis intensifies across the region, Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) has announced it is redeploying some of its key medical staff to allow the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) and the NHS provide as much frontline care as possible. 

This means that from today all YAA doctors will concentrate on their frontline roles, which are consultants in emergency medicine, anaesthesia and critical care.

A small number of the YAA’s critical care paramedics will be redeployed to support YAS frontline personnel working on ambulances.

This means that the YAA, for a temporary period, will be operating only one of its air ambulance helicopters from its airbase at Nostell, near Wakefield.

YAA Chairman Peter Sunderland said: “In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, the YAA wants to do everything it can to support the NHS and YAS in their fight against COVID-19.  It is important that everyone does their part, including us.

“As the cases of COVID-19 rise, it also increases the pressure on the NHS.  We know that YAS anticipates a significant increase in 999 calls across the region and by redeploying our doctors and a small number of our critical care paramedics back to their respective hospitals or ambulance operations, we can do our bit to support the frontline effort.”

He added: “This means, for a temporary period, we will be operating only one of our two helicopters from our Nostell airbase, with a crew of two critical care paramedics and a pilot.

"We would also strongly reinforce the government’s message to stay at home during this crisis, and stay local to your home for your daily exercise period. 

"Travelling further afield in cars to places like forests or moorlands can increase the risk of possible unnecessary accidents such as RTCs or falls where our services might be required. 

"With a reduced service currently available from the YAA, it’s vitally important we are available for the most urgent cases.”

The YAA will be operating a daily shift from 7am to 7pm until its doctors and paramedics are able to re-join them. This is under regular review.

Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust added: “We are operating in an unprecedented situation and coronavirus is presenting the whole NHS with arguably the greatest challenge it has ever faced.

"This means that we have to be flexible and resilient in our approach to ensure patients receive the care they need.  Whilst it has been a difficult decision to temporarily re-deploy some of the clinicians on the region’s air ambulance operation, it’s the right thing to do for the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Mr Sunderland added: “It is no secret that we have seen a huge downturn in fundraising incomes and activities in the last couple of weeks. 

"A calendar packed full of summer events and activities has virtually been wiped out, with an estimated loss of income for this period alone being in the region of £400,000 plus. 

"We have now closed our Head Office in Elland, and the rest of the team are working at home for their own safety. 

"They are working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure we are ready to get straight back to our fundraising activities once things start to get back to some normality, and we’re also taking the opportunity to explore and plan some new projects for the future.

“We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for everyone, but if anyone wishes to make a small donation to support us at this time, it would be very gratefully received and can be done safely and securely via our website:"