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Air ambulance hit by laser near Brantford

There were some tense moments for an air ambulance in Norfolk County Saturday night when the crew of an Ornge emergency helicopter was hit by a laser.

Police caution, it is a criminal offence

Police are investigating after someone shone a laser at an Ornge air ambulance over Norfolk County over the weekend. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

There were some tense moments for an air ambulance in Norfolk County Saturday night when the crew of an Ornge emergency helicopter was hit by a laser.

It happened just after 11 p.m. on Saturday night when the helicopter was flying over a rural area south of Brantford.

Though shining a laser pointer at a helicopter might seem like a harmless prank to some, Ornge base manager Ian McLean says the sharp beam of light can be distracting and dangerous for everyone on board.       

"The main thing is it has the potential to startle the crew," he said from his base in London, Ont. "And of course the pilots are carrying out their duties up front and the paramedics are involved in patient care many times in the back."

Thankfully, there was no patient on board the air ambulance at the time – but McLean says crews have to deal with lasers about once a month.

The pilot reported the incident to the OPP, and Const. Ed Sanchuk says officers are now looking for suspects, as it's a criminal offence.

But aircraft aren't the only target, he added.

"Recently we had one this year where someone pointed the laser at the driver of a motor vehicle," Sanchuk said. "That driver was also alarmed as well.

"We don't want people playing around with them as they can be a fire hazard, cause flash blindness, even permanent eye damage."

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