A year after first taking to the skies, the doctors, paramedics, pilots and support staff marked the first anniversary of the air ambulance’s inaugural rescue mission on July 22nd.
The Charity, Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI), in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), provides the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for the region and responds to seriously ill or injured patients, seven days a week, for twelve hours a day.
The only service of its kind in Northern Ireland has seen the doctor/ paramedic team on the air ambulance work cohesively and successfully with the land crews from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), and other emergency services to deliver advanced treatment and optimum care for patients. From July 2017 until 22nd June 2018, the air ambulance has been tasked to 380 emergency missions across Northern Ireland, providing critical advanced care to patients, with 50% of taskings being for road traffic collisions.
The service holds a special place in the hearts of Armagh people who have helped raised over £250,000 for the Air Ambulance in memory of Lesley-Ann McCarragher.
Since Lesley-Ann’s death over a quarter of a million pounds has been raised from countless events and fundraisers across the Armagh area and more are pencilled in for this year.
From its base near Lisburn, the air ambulance can reach any part of Northern Ireland in approximately twenty-five minutes. Its primary role is to deliver advanced critical care, benefitting those whose lives are at serious risk following significant injury or trauma, by bringing urgent medical assistance directly to the patient at the scene.
Clinical Lead, Dr Darren Monaghan, said: “HEMS working alongside our road crew colleagues is able to attend patients critically injured as a result of major trauma, for example road traffic collisions, falls from heights, or serious agricultural injuries. Trauma unfortunately is the number one killer of people under 40 years of age and for every death there are at least two survivors with serious permanent disability. During the first year, our HEMS team have been able to reach hundreds of patients be it at the road side, farm yard or even the city centre providing clinical interventions and life-saving medical treatment at the scene and in the air.
“We know that patients are alive today due to the care we provide in conjunction with the whole health service. We would like to say a huge thank you to the population of Northern Ireland for their support and donations which allow this lifesaving service to continue.
“Over the course of our first year, we’ve also been able to welcome many of those who we have helped to our base to meet the team. For many this has been an important part of their recovery and this is something we plan to continue as we enter year two, so we would encourage any previous patients to get in touch to arrange a visit.”
The charity is also gearing up for Air Ambulance Month in September, a national campaign which aims to recognise the work of air ambulances across the UK. The team at Air Ambulance Northern Ireland will be organising a series of fundraising events in major towns and cities across the region requiring volunteer support and briefings for local businesses who might like to support the charity and an abseil at Belfast Castle on 9th September.
To find out more about the charity visit Air Ambulance Northern Ireland’s Facebook page, visit www.airambulanceni.org or call 028 9262 2677.