No doubt John Hinds would have become clinical director of air ambulance service, says racing doctor's closest colleague
The family and friends of 'flying doctor' John Hinds say the campaign to fulfil his legacy of an air ambulance service will be a hard battle, but one that will ultimately be won.
Dr Hinds died providing emergency medical care at the Skerries motorcycle races in Co Dublin earlier this month when he crashed during a practice session.
The 35-year-old headed up the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland's (MCUI) team which provided on-course medical care for riders.
The medical team have to be expert riders as they follow the racers around the course so they can be at any accident in seconds.
Dr Hinds, from Tandragee, was a strong advocate for a regional air ambulance and met Stormont Health Minister Simon Hamilton to discuss the issue in the weeks before he died.
His family and former colleagues now plan to start a charity to secure his dream of an air ambulance service for Northern Ireland.
One of his friends and colleagues said he would have become the clinical director of the Northern Ireland Helicopter Service had he lived.
Dr Fred Macsorley was speaking yesterday before giving blood as a tribute to his fellow 'flying doctor'.
As he encouraged members of the public to donate blood in his memory, Dr Macsorley told the Belfast Telegraph that Dr Hinds had begun training new doctors to be part of an advanced trauma team for critically injured people across Northern Ireland.
"That was only in its infancy," he said.
"The people of Northern Ireland have lost a visionary who would have been able to greatly facilitate the improvement of trauma service.
"I don't know who else can do it. John was so unique."
Dr Macsorley said he missed his fellow racing doctor hugely. "It's going to take me a while to get my head round losing him," Dr Macsorley admitted.
"John's way forward was to train doctors so that, later down the line, they and the paramedics could crew a helicopter emergency medical service in Northern Ireland like they do in London and Sydney."
Dr Hinds first joined the MCUI team as a medical student in 2000.
"It was clear from an early stage that he was brilliantly talented," the GP said.
"His overriding concern was not just for motorcycle riders but for all people with severe injuries. He was particularly good at head injuries. If he was called and he was at your side you had a chance.
"In his relatively short space of time he made a huge impact. He was hugely popular, a real giant of a person."
Dr Macsorley said the challenge now was to find someone to carry on his former colleague's work.
"In five years time I have no doubt John would have become the clinical director of the Northern Ireland Helicopter Service," he said.
"He would have been auditing it, doing research, presenting at international symposia and he would have had people wanting to work here as doctors and paramedics. Who is going to take up that battle now?"
Yesterday medics gave blood at the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service in Belfast.
"The team see first hand the need for emergency blood transfusions in serious trauma cases and this is our way of encouraging everyone who can to do their bit to save a life," said paramedic Caroline Bowles, who worked with Dr John for eight years.
"We really need people to become regular donors rather than just doing this as a one-off."