Not all Heroes wear capes

Eech year, thousands of lives are saved in Yorkshire by a number of vital emergency services. Often these are voluntary and rely on generous donations in order to carry out its operations. They are also a vital resource for the funded emergency services, who often work with these charities to help and support their work. Here are some of the heroes who are saving lives in Yorkshire every single day. 

Yorkshire Air Ambulance

One of the new helicopters to be deployed by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance this year. Picture credit: With thanks to YAA

THE YORKSHIRE AIR AMBULANCE was set up in 2000 and is a vital emergency service to those who require urgent medical attention.

YAA cover a population of 5 million people and 4 million acres of ground beneath their helicopter’s skids. Each year the Yorkshire Air Ambulance responds to over 1,250 calls per year and needs £12,000 per day to operate.

Their original two helicopters were known as G-SASH and G-CEMS, which operate from Nostell Priory near Wakefield and RAF Topcliffe in Thirsk. At the time of writing they are currently being replaced by two state of the art airbus helicopters, G-YACC and G-YOAA. The helicopters have landing strips at several major hospitals in the region, such as Leeds General Infirmary, Hull Royal, James Cook hospital in Middlesborough and Sheffield Children’s hospital, amongst others.

The key to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s success is speed. Travelling through the air at up to 160mph and without the problems of traffic congestion means they are never more than 15 minutes away from the nearest hospital or treatment centre.


One of their most famous call-outs was in 2006 when Top Gear Presenter, Richard Hammond was involved in a high speed crash at Elvington airfield while filming for the show. Their work was brought into national attention and donations soared in the aftermath of this crash. The presenter also made a full recovery, which in some part was due to  the fast response from the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to get him to hospital quickly. Another useful role for the Air Ambulance is to pick patients up in traffic congested cities, when it would take too long for a traditional road ambulance to attend the scene. In August 2016, they landed in the middle of Bishopthorpe Road in York to help a driver who had been taken ill at the wheel of his car.

Currently a reality documentary, “Helicopter ER,” which profiles the work of the YAA can be seen on the Really Channel at 10pm on Monday evening, until early 2017. The good work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance continues, working alongside hospitals and traditional ambulance services to help the people of the county.

Yorkshire Mountain Rescue Teams

Mountain rescue helps a variety of people every year.Picture credit Kim Dent - Brown
Mountain rescue teams around Yorkshire helps a variety of people every year. Picture credit Kim Dent – Brown

YORKSHIRE IS COVERED BY A SERIES OF MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAMS, covering different areas of upland Yorkshire.

The Pennines and Moors areas are covered by several different rescue services, which are mainly voluntary organisations and often work together to help people who come into difficulty in some of Yorkshire’s remotest areas. These can range from helping injured fell workers to rescuing sheep which have fallen down a hole.

Rescue teams are also busy in urban areas, where they partake in searches for missing persons. Some of the main mountain rescue teams are Holme Valley, which covers the South Pennines, Swaledale and Upper Wharfedale teams, which operate in the Dales, while over in the East there are teams based in Scarborough and Cleveland, which cover the Yorkshire Moors.

The RNLI in Yorkshire

Saving lives at sea. An RNLI boat at Whitby. Picture credit: Peter Skynner geograph creative commons.

The RNLI are present throughout the UK, but the Yorkshire coastline has some of the oldest and most established lifeboat crews in the country. Spurn Point is home to the only full time rescue crew in the country, while other important stations on the East Coast, include Hornsea, Withernsea, Bridlington, Filey, Scarborough, Whitby, Staithes and Redcar. On average the RNLI throughout the country saves 22 lives at sea per day. In recent times they have had to turn their boats inland to help with flooding in other parts of Yorkshire, notably in 2007 and 2015. The RNLI are expanding their work to help prevent drowning in oceans across the globe. They are all voluntary and have saved countless lives in the North Sea and beyond.

The Street Angels

The Street Angels are now an important presence in town centres on weekends. Picture credit: cni network
The Street Angels are now an important presence in town centres on weekends. Picture credit: cni network

THE STREET ANGELS WERE FORMED IN HALIFAX to help people who are vulnerable while having a night out in the town.

The church based charity was set up after a rise in crime in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.

They are based at the Angels cafe’ in the town and help revelers, the homeless and victims of crime in a variety of ways. This includes helping those who are ill through the effects of alcohol, providing flip-flops to wear instead of heels and even charging mobile phones to enable them to make urgent calls.

They can also apply basic first aid and call emergency services when necessary. In the first six weeks they helped 69 people and now come to the aid of over 3,000 people in a year. The success of the Street Angels has led to them being rolled out across the country. There are now Street Angels in Scarborough, York, Bolton Windsor and in an increasing number of places across the UK. The presence of the Street Angels has also lead to a decrease in town centre crime on weekends.

Cover picture credit: With thanks to Kevin Hutchinson at YAA.