Yorkshire Air Ambulance crew member injured in spate of 'reckless' laser attacks

Alex Clark, Yorkshire Air Ambulance
Alex Clark was in a helicopter over Bradford when he was targeted. Credit: Yorkshire Air Ambulance

An air ambulance crew member suffered an eye injury after a laser was directed at his helicopter during a flight.

Alex Clark was on his way back to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance's base in Wakefield when the aircraft was targeted with a laser pen, causing him a burned cornea.

The incident, which happened at around 1,500ft over Bradford on Friday, 22 September, was the third in a week.

Mr Clark said he was wearing night vision goggles at the time, but felt "burning" immediately.

"We managed to land on the job and I had to carry on doing my duty, but the next day I went to the opticians and they told me I had a burned cornea," he said.

"At the end of the day we all want to be here to do this job and it's stopping us. We are here to save lives, it's as simple as that, and I don't think these people understand the implications of what they are doing."

  • Alex Clark describes what happened

Chief pilot Owen McTeggart said: "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.

"If we get a laser attack while trying to land at the site of an incident, it means we cannot land, and the injured person on the ground doesn't get the care that we are there to provide."

Mike Harrop, Yorkshire Air Ambulance chairman, said the safety and well-being of crew members and patients was "non-negotiable". 

He added: "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. 

"Regardless of whether YAA are being deliberately targeted or mistaken for another helicopter, it is wholly unacceptable for one of our crew members to suffer an injury due to someone else's reckless actions."

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