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Air Ambulance launch a ‘watershed moment’

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Air Ambulance launch a ‘watershed moment’ thumbnailABC Lord Mayor Gareth Wilson pictured with Liz and James McCarragher and NI Air Ambulance’s Ian Crowe. The Lord Mayor has chosen the Air Ambulance as his nominated charity

THE official launch of the NI Air Ambulance - which was the wish of the late Dr John Hinds and is widely supported by the local community - has been described as a "watershed moment" for emergency response in Northern Ireland.

The service requires £2m in public donations to run annually, and £173,000 been raised locally in memory of Lesley-Ann McCarragher, with £48,000 raised at a country music music held in the late teenager's honour.

To underline the importance of the Air Ambulance, its official launch was cut short when it was called out to attend an emergency. Last month it attended the scene of a tractor accident involving 11-year-old Conor McMullan in Castlewellan, Co Down, who was taken to hospital in Belfast via air in a journey that took eight minutes.

Newry and Armagh SDLP MLA, Justin McNulty said the helicopter service is one that will save lives, and therefore needs a "sustainable funding stream for the service".

"The formal launch of the HEMS Air Ambulance is a watershed moment for emergency response care," said Mr McNulty. "Journeys with patients facing acute medical conditions or trauma that would otherwise have taken over an hour can now be completed in minutes, giving those in need of care the best chance of recovery.

"The campaign for this service has been long and gruelling. But the determination of people like Dr John Hinds and others over 12 years has ensured that we can now reach isolated parts of this constituency in a fraction of the time. That will result in better patient outcomes.

"What's vital now is that we ensure funding for the service is sustainable and not reliant on public donations to continue. This must be a priority for all parties and underscores the critical need to establish power sharing institutions in the North.

The first deployment of the Air Ambulance reduced a journey time of an hour to eight minutes. That's critical and I have no doubt it'll save lives in our communities as well."

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