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Northern Ireland air ambulance 'could cost £2.2m a year'

Published 23/07/2015

MLA Arlene Foster said there are no air ambulances in Northern Ireland and 'this needs to change'
MLA Arlene Foster said there are no air ambulances in Northern Ireland and 'this needs to change'

An air ambulance could cost £2.2 million a year and operate from an airport in Co Fermanagh, advocates said.

Trustees of Air Ambulance Northern Ireland Ltd said positive discussions have recently taken place with Stormont Health Minister Simon Hamilton. They hope to establish a charity to complement the work of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service across the country.

Dr John Hinds, a motor racing doctor who died in a crash recently, was a keen supporter of a doctor-led helicopter ambulance and members of his family have vowed to continue his campaign.

The trustees said: "We trust by working together this vital tool in emergency care will be able to become a reality for people living in Northern Ireland.

"The trustees are very committed to the establishment of an air ambulance service that will be tasked by and complement the excellent service provided by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service."

It would operate throughout Northern Ireland and be based at St Angelo air field near Enniskillen.

DUP MLA for the area Arlene Foster said: "Throughout the UK this valuable service is widely available, with 26 air ambulances serving mainland GB. However we have none in Northern Ireland. This needs to change.

"It is estimated that such a service could cost in the region of £2.2 million per year. At the meeting today we explored the various funding options that are available and the cocktail for funding which will be required.

"We are hopeful that this service can soon operate from St Angelo Airport, Enniskillen, and serve all of Northern Ireland."

Dr Hinds was injured while providing medical cover at a Skerries 100 practice session in Dublin earlier this month and died in hospital the following day.

Dr John Hinds who was killed in a crash during Skerries 100 practice session. Photo: Stephen Davison
Dr John Hinds who was killed in a crash during Skerries 100 practice session. Photo: Stephen Davison
Doctor John Hinds at the Tandragee 100. Pic Stephen Davison
On track: Dr John Hinds on the North West 200 circuit
Guy Martin is given a medical examination by Dr John Hinds before practice for the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod in 2010. Pic Stephen Davison
Dr John Hinds with the ZX10 Kawasaki he uses as a travelling race doctor and the medical kit that he carries. Pic Stephen Davison
Fast company: Dr Hinds with rider Maria Costello
First response: Dr Hinds on his bike
Motorcycle medic: The NW200’s on track doctor, Dr John Hinds
Photographer ?Matt Mackey - Presseye.com 12th May 2015 On track doctor, Dr John Hinds photographed as he prepares his kit to allow him to deliver crucial medical aid if and when required on the North West 200 circuit.
Photographer ?Matt Mackey - Presseye.com 12th May 2015 On track doctor, Dr John Hinds photographed as he prepares his kit to allow him to deliver crucial medical aid if and when required on the North West 200 circuit.
Photographer ?Matt Mackey - Presseye.com 12th May 2015 On track doctor, Dr John Hinds photographed as he prepares his kit to allow him to deliver crucial medical aid if and when required on the North West 200 circuit.
Photographer ?Matt Mackey - Presseye.com 12th May 2015 On track doctor, Dr John Hinds photographed as he prepares his kit to allow him to deliver crucial medical aid if and when required on the North West 200 circuit.

He was a strong supporter of the use of helicopters to speed the injured to hospital and a petition has been established supporting his call.

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