Over 60,000 sign petition for Dr John Hinds air ambulance campaign
Almost 60,000 people have backed a call for an air ambulance service in Northern Ireland. A campaign has been ongoing for a number of years, but the recent death of road racing doctor John Hinds has helped galvanise the public behind it.
To date, 56,374 people have pledged their support by signing an online petition at the website change.org, with more signing every few minutes.
The 35-year-old from Portaferry, Co Down, died from his injuries following a crash as he provided medical cover at the Skerries motorcycle races practice session near Dublin on July 3.
He worked as a consultant anaesthetist at Craigavon Area Hospital, but was best known as one of the 'flying doctors' of Irish road racing.
During his life he campaigned for an air ambulance to help injured people in often remote areas to reach hospital more quickly.
Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK to not have air ambulance cover.
At John's funeral his family and friends urged people to help make his dream of a first class trauma network with an emergency helicopter for all of Northern Ireland a reality.
Fellow racing doctor Fred McSorley said his colleague's Delta 7 call sign pager was deactivated by the Ambulance Service and should now be inherited by an air ambulance.
"I would hope with the dedication and help of people around that in the years to come the call sign Delta 7 would be heard as it had been cleared to land in the heliport at the top of the Royal Victoria Hospital," he said.
Earlier this week John's family renewed their appeal in an emotional open letter.
His partner Dr Janet Acheson and Hinds family members said that they passionately believe in the need for a helicopter emergency medical service and have pledged to establish a charity fund to support his vision.
They wrote: "We passionately believe in maintaining his dream that Northern Ireland should have a first-rate trauma network with a doctor-led helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) at its core. Please sign the petition supporting the call.
"It remains our dearly-held wish that John's unique call-sign of 'Delta 7' is once again heard over the Ambulance Service airways as the HEMS helicopter is cleared to land on the helipad of the roof of the Royal Victoria Hospital, or in a field or country lane to provide lifesaving medical intervention to anyone in need."
The key role air ambulances play was highlighted last week when the Duke of Cambridge flew on four lifesaving missions during his first week as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Last Wednesday William's helicopter carried medics Dr Gemma Mullen and critical care paramedic Rob Riches, who treated a man in Felixstowe.
The patient in his 50s had suffered a cardiac arrest.
The crew then airlifted him to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for treatment.