RAF Cosford

RAF Cosford win Emergency Services Pride of Britain Award

  • The Midlands Air Ambulance Crew operate out of the RAF Cosford Building designed, manufactured & installed by Module-AR Limited.
  • Won award for their above the call of duty work at the Smiler Incident in 2015.

Midlands Air Ambulance Charity flight doctors, Ben Clark & David Cooper and critical care paramedic Tom Waters, all based at the RAF Cosford site, have won the Emergency Services category at the Pride of Britain Awards, which took place at the prestigious Grosvenor Hotel in London.

The awards celebrate the achievements of truly remarkable people and the trio, who work out of the charity’s RAF Cosford airbase in Shropshire, were chosen for their life saving work while tending to the victims of the horrific Smiler rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers.

The RAF Cosford Office accommodation; which was designed, manufactured and installed by Module-AR Limited; houses the Midlands Air Ambulance crew whilst they await news requiring their services. The 6 No. module building features 4 No. Offices, a Kitchen, CD store, Locker room, Showers and WC’s allowing the crew a comfortable working environment and place to store their equipment in preparation for their next emergency response.

Unsung heroes Ben (who was in the capacity of a volunteer doctor with the North Staffordshire BASICS team on the day of the accident), David and Tom represented the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, which receives no Government or National Lottery funding to operate its vitally important service, at the star-studded ceremony on Monday 28th September.

RAF Cosford. Shropshire.
RAF Cosford Air Ambulance Building. Designed, manufactured & installed by Module-AR.

The Incident

The incident took place on the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers Resort on 2nd June 2015. When a moving carriage crashed into a stationary carriage, it left 16 people injured, four with potentially life threatening injuries.

West Midlands Ambulance Service dispatched 4 No. air ambulances, including 2 of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s EC135 helicopters. They also dispatched 2 No. land ambulances, paramedics from the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and doctors from the North Staffs BASICS Emergency Doctor scheme.

While the Midlands Air Ambulance aircrews regularly receive on going extensive training for serious and major incidents, the extent & seriousness of the injuries coupled with the complexity of reaching the injured 30ft in the air, at a 45° angle, meant they had to work together at great speed to ensure the very best possible outcomes for those involved.

As part of the theme park’s own internal rescue plan, a platform to reach the carriages was built. All the clinicians worked together in restrictive conditions, while attached to safety ropes to assess and administer treatment, primarily to the 4 most severely injured patients situated at the front of the carriage.

Upon immediate assessment of all the injured, it was clear Leah Washington was in grave danger, as she was bleeding profusely, so the priority was to stop the blood loss. She was given drugs to promote clotting and 2 No. combat tourniquets were applied to her left leg. At one point, Dr Ben Clark had to remove his safety helmet to crawl into the structure to reach Leah’s legs to cut away the metal structure and release her legs.

Despite the extreme surroundings, trauma doctors Dr David Cooper, Dr Ben Clark and critical care paramedic Tom Waters remained on the Smiler for over 4 hours, demonstrating their incredible dedication & bravery, going above and beyond the call of duty.

Leah Washington and Vicky Balch both received life changing injuries, requiring partial leg amputations. They are both here today, thanks to the collaboration of the emergency services and the clinical expertise and swift intervention demonstrated by the medical teams from Midlands Air Ambulance involved on the scene and in the air.