UK Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) has recently seen a disturbing rapid escalation in laser attacks. Over the course of a single week, YAA has been subjected to three separate and deliberate laser assaults, with the latest attack resulting in an injury to one of their crew members.
On Friday evening during a transit flight back to their Nostell airbase, 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 crew members.
These attacks, characterized by their intermittent and seemingly random nature, have left the YAA searching for answers, as there appears to be no discernible pattern or motive behind these acts of senseless stupidity. The safety of YAA’s crews and the patients they serve is paramount, and these attacks constitute a threat to both.
YAA Chief Pilot Owen McTeggart emphasized the severe consequences of laser attacks on air ambulance operations: “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. 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.