The rapid response emergency charity has worked closely with Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to develop the intensive, three-week technical crew members course.
The intake, all experienced paramedics with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, was chosen for the two-year secondment following a rigorous selection process.
New recruit Paul Holmes said: “The first day’s training was underwater escape from a helicopter and it’s been an intense learning curve, but just fantastic.”
The programme also includes mountain and swift water rescue, navigation, air safety, advanced clinical skills and crew resource management.
Pete Vallance, Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) Clinical Operations Manager, said: “This is the first year we have provided a full, in-house technical crew members course encompassing both medical and aviation aspects.
“A lot of work has gone into this from both ourselves and Yorkshire Ambulance Service to ensure we have provided training of the highest calibre.”
Ian Walton, Associate Director of Resilience and Special Services at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “As partners we take every opportunity to work together with colleagues at YAA. Enhanced training packages and secondment opportunities for our paramedics will further enhance this vital service for the benefit of patients.”
Previously new paramedics joined the YAA on a part-time basis over three years. But this latest cohort is also the first that has been seconded full-time for two years.
Pete Vallance explained: “Because of the advancements and requirements of aircrew paramedics, we decided it would be much better to have people with us for two years on a full-time attachment.
“We found that paramedics spending a month with us and then going back on the road for a month meant they were constantly playing catch-up.
“Now, even if they are not flying, the aircrew paramedics are manning the air desk and it is a better experience for them, and a more effective way of developing their skills during their time with us.”
The YAA is a rapid response emergency service serving 5million people across Yorkshire. It has transported over 6,000 critically ill or injured people to hospital in its 14-year history.
Pete added: “The workload of land crews is much greater but the aircrew paramedics are primarily dealing with the really critical end of the patient care cycle; the most life threatening injuries that need immediate attention and rapid transport to hospital.
“As well as developing their clinical skills, the paramedics learn a lot about working together as a team in often highly pressurised working conditions.”
The YAA is an independent charity and needs to raise £12,000 each day to keep its two helicopters in the air – equivalent to £4.4 million a year.
Without any direct government funding, the only help the charity receives is through the secondment of their 14 paramedics from Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.