Serving more than five million people across 6,000 square miles, Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) has to contend with a complex landscape and an even more diverse population.

Employing more than 4,500 people, YAS handles around 800,000 urgent and emergency calls a year as well as providing almost a million patient transport services a year.

Most importantly, YAS also operates two emergency operator centers that provide lifesaving advice and guidance until emergency support arrives on the scene.

The Challenge

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) was facing an unprecedented demand on its services as the Grand Depart of the Tour De France was arriving in the region and a language provider was needed that could cope with the demand of millions of foreign visitors arriving for the weekend.

The challenge that lay ahead was made all the harder by the fact that they only had a few short weeks to find and implement an interpretation service that could rise to the challenge.

In the longer term, YAS also had to look to greatly improve the way calls to interpreters were handled and find cost-savings and efficiencies for the future.

The Solution

With just three weeks before three million visitors from around the world descended on Yorkshire quick delivery and an ability to respond to a huge increase in the numbers of calls were the top priorities for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Most importantly, the language provider had to be able to quickly respond as lost seconds could literally mean life or death in an emergency call. By turning to thebigword for help, YAS was able to get access to the Automated Telephone Interpreting Service which is available 24 hours a day and connects staff to expert linguists in more than 270 languages in under 30 seconds.

In the short space of time available, thebigword implemented the system, tested it and trained the staff before then launching it on the weekend of the Grand Depart. In that launch weekend, triple the amount of usual calls were handled and thebigword Interpreting Management System ensured expert linguists were on hand every time they were needed.

Now the event has departed, thebigword is currently investing in touch screen technology for the service to make it even quicker and simpler for staff to get the languages support they need. The new software will help to drive further efficiencies and will also save even more valuable seconds in a life-threatening situation.


“We save lives by saving seconds.”

“thebigword Automated Telephone Interpreting Service is helping us to do that by instantly putting us in contact with expert linguists. We needed someone who could deliver on a tough challenge in just three weeks. thebigword made that happen and, most importantly, they made it clear that we could rely on them to deliver.”

Karen Cooper – Head of Service Delivery, Yorkshire Ambulance NHS Trust