Firefighter fundraiser for air ambulance after bike accident rescue

A leading member of North Yorkshire’s emergency services who has spent more than 25 years attending incidents, was himself airlifted to hospital after a serious cycling accident.

And Ben Cairns is so grateful to Yorkshire Air Ambulance that he is getting back on his bike this summer to take on an epic Italian cycling challenge to raise funds for the rapid response emergency charity.

Ben was on a normal Sunday morning bike ride with his village cycling group near Masham, North Yorkshire, when the bike’s wheels suddenly went from under him. The 44-year-old hit the road hard and knew straight away he had suffered a serious injury.

“I think I hit some diesel and landed really hard on my left side before sliding down the road,” said Ben, Group Manager Transformation at North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue. “My chest was really sore but I couldn’t move and really thought I’d broken my pelvis.”

In a stroke of good luck, Ben had come off his bike outside the house of an accident and emergency consultant who came out to help before the air ambulance arrived.

Image shows an accident scene on a wet road. There are fields and trees behind. There are a number of people in the road including six medical personnel. The appear to be tending to someone on the floor. The word 'AMBULANCE' is visible on the back of two of them. Two are wearing dark green jackets. Two are wearing yellow hi visibility jackets, and two are wearing orange jackets and trousers. There are two other people stood in the road further back. One is a gentleman wearing a black jacket and wellies. The other is a gentleman wearing a yellow and black cycling helmet , black and yellow cycling jacket, black leggings and black cycling shoes. There are a number of cars which appear to be waiting behind them.

The father-of-two from Bishop Monkton was airlifted to the nearest major trauma centre at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough – a journey that would have taken nearly an hour by road.

Surgeons pinned and plated a complex hip fracture. Ben was in hospital for a week and unable to weight bear for two months before starting his rehabilitation.

In June he, and five other members of the Bishop Monkton cycling club, will attempt to ride across Italy in a day – starting at sunset on the Adriatic coast with the challenge of completing more than 275km and 3,300m of ascent to reach Tirrenia, near Pisa, before sunset.

“I’ve done a couple of these Chase The Sun challenges before but, as two out of the six of us in the group have needed Yorkshire Air Ambulance, we really want to raise as much as possible to say thank you.

“I have worked with YAA for many years in my career at all kinds of incidents and it’s so very reassuring to know that when you are in that hour of need the air ambulance is there to help.”

To sponsor Ben go to His dramatic accident also features in this week’s episode of Helicopter ER, the reality TV series which follows the life-saving work of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

A man wearing a silver cycling helmet is laying down and has a red blanket and a yellow hi visibility jacket over him He has a gas and air pipe in his mouth, which he looks to be holding with his hand, which is wearing a black glove. The hand and knee of another person is visible knelt at the side of him.

Serving a population of approximately five million people across Yorkshire’s three million acres, the charity operates two air ambulances from airbases at The Nostell Priory Estate near Wakefield and RAF Topcliffe near Thirsk plus two Rapid Response Vehicles.