Belfast Telegraph

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Northern Ireland air ambulance plans get go-ahead

Plans for an air ambulance in Northern Ireland have been given the go-ahead.

The main helicopter will be based at Maze/Long Kesh, while a secondary aircraft will be situated at St Angelo Airport in Enniskillen.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill said she hoped the service would be operational within three months.

Campaigners said it could save 50 lives a year.

Mrs O'Neill said: "Credit to all those who have worked tirelessly for HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) Air Ambulance service in the north of Ireland, including the late Dr John Hinds."

Dr Hinds provided care at motorcycle racing events and campaigned for a helicopter to take injured riders to hospital.

He died from an accident during a race in 2015.

The new service will be doctor-led and will operate seven days a week for up to 12 hours a day during daylight hours.

Ian Crowe, chairman of the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI) charity which is organising the service, said: "The service will bring us into line with other regions in the UK and Ireland, and may save between 18 to 50 lives every year.

"AANI is continuing to work with our partners in health and social care and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, and we expect to commence this lifesaving service within the coming months."

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