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Paramedics Save Colleague's Life

17 September 2010

Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) paramedics were faced with one of the biggest challenges of their career recently when a close colleague turned patient and there was a race against time to save his life.

On Saturday 24 July 2010, YAA Dispatcher Chris Solomons was travelling to work at the Air Support Unit at Leeds Bradford International Airport when he began to feel unwell.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service Paramedics James Vine and Lee Davison were working on the air ambulance that day and became concerned when their colleague arrived and was complaining of some pain and discomfort.

Dispatcher Chris Solomans at the Air Support Unit, Leeds Bradford International Airport

They decided to run some tests and, on assessment, were alarmed to find that Chris was in fact suffering a major heart attack.

James and Lee were well aware of the severity of their colleague’s condition, but put their emotions to one side and their training and professionalism kicked in.

Chris’s condition rapidly deteriorated as he soon lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. Knowing that his heart had stopped beating and that he had stopped breathing, James and Lee quickly began advanced life support.

Thanks to the life-saving skills of the paramedics Chris was successfully resuscitated at the scene. But he wasn’t out of danger yet and James and Lee, along with Chief Pilot Steve Cobb, worked hard to get him to hospital as quickly as possible for the specialist care he needed.

Chris was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary and now, only eight weeks later, is making a good recovery.

Chris said: “I was so scared; the pins and needles were horrendous.  It was then I realised there was something very wrong and it wasn’t just indigestion as I had first thought.

“All the guys at work have been so supportive – I’m missing them all. I will never be able to put into words just how grateful I am to Lee and James for saving my life that day. And I can’t forget our Chief Pilot Steve Cobb who got me to hospital for the vital treatment I needed.”

Paramedic James Vine commented: “Chris isn’t only a colleague but a good friend to everyone at the YAA.  So when he arrived at work on the Saturday morning it was awful to see him in so much pain. 

"Although it was a really difficult situation for Lee and I to be in, we were just glad that we were in the right place at the right time to be able to help him.  Chris Joked: “To be honest, Chris and I are only just back on speaking terms after what he put us through!”

The BBC were filming with the air ambulance that day and Chris’s plight will be shared as part of the ‘Helicopter Heroes’ programme which is aired on BBC 1 on Monday 20 September at 9.15am.

The ‘Helicopter Heroes’ series follows the work of the two Yorkshire Air Ambulances as they are deployed to help seriously ill and injured patients throughout the region and provide rapid transportation to specialist treatment centres.

The programmes, which air at 9:15am on BBC 1, are currently running on weekdays throughout September and illustrate the skills and dedication of the air ambulance paramedics, who are provided by Yorkshire Ambulance Service, doctors and pilots who operate the vital service which saves lives every day.

  • YAA is an independent charity needing to raise £7,200 per day to keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances in the air and maintained.  This is equivalent to £2.65 million each year.
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust provides the air ambulance paramedics.
  • The YAA provides a life saving rapid response emergency service to five million people across four million acres of Yorkshire.
  • There are two air ambualnces currently in operation, G-SASH and G-CEMS, from Leeds Bradford International Airport and Sheffield Business Park and now have a satellite base in Bagby Airfield in Thirsk.
  • To date over 3000 patients have been carried to appropriate treatment centres.
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million people. The organisation receives an average of 1,900 urgent and emergency calls per day and employs over 4,000 staff.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department