Air ambulance staff have spoken of their anger after yobs with laser pens stopped them from flying a dying man to hospital.

The man eventually died in a road ambulance after the Devizes helicopter was forced to abort its callout in Calne.

The helicopter had been called to Calne just after midnight last Wednesday night, by Great Western Ambulance Service to help the patient in his 70s who had suffered a heart attack.

It tried to land in a clearing near Mill Street but the pilot was put off by laser pens being shone into his eyes. The mission was eventually called off.

Though police said it was unlikely that transport by air would have made any difference to the man’s chances of survival, officers condemned the act.

PC Adrian Wells, the acting executive officer in charge of the air support team, said: “I don’t know whether these people think this kind of thing is funny or not, but it is a very foolish thing to do.

“It is such a dangerous and stupid act – the aircraft could easily have crashed and then they would be responsible for that.

“We only go out to the scene if it has been a very serious incident or if there is someone with life threatening injuries where getting them to hospital quickly is key so this could easily endanger someone’s life.

“These lasers are very strong and when they are shone on the helicopters they take away any vision the pilot has, temporarily blinding them. This is a criminal offence.

“We have had people shining these lasers at us, as well as at military and commercial aircraft in Wiltshire on a number of occasions.

“There have been convictions around the country for these offences in the past – it is just not acceptable.”

Paramedics had been working on the patient for more than an hour before the air ambulance arrived.

A GWAS spokesman said: “Patients in cardiac arrest are clearly suffering an immediately life-threatening emergency and our commitment is to ensure they have the best chance of surviving and recovering. An air ambulance can play an essential role in helping us do that.

“A paramedic in a rapid-response vehicle was first on scene, backed up by a road ambulance crew.

“On arrival the GWAS clinicians reported that the patient had gone into cardiac arrest and requested the air ambulance attend while they continued providing advanced life-support.

“They were subsequently told by the GWAS control room that the helicopter was unable to attend, so the patient was taken to Great Western Hospital in Swindon by road ambulance. Unfortunately, he was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital.”

Police said an investigation is ongoing. PC Wells said they had managed to pinpoint an address in King Edward Close where they think the laser was coming from, using the air ambulance’s on-board mapping system, and hope to make arrests soon.