Air ambulance a fitting tribute to John Hinds
The untimely death of Dr John Hinds, the racing doctor, is a tragedy for his family and friends in particular, and for the road-racing world in general. He died following a crash at the practice for the Skerries 100, and even those involved in this dangerous sport, who have known much tragedy, are stunned by his death.
Dr Hinds, who was only 35, was a well-known figure who rode behind the competitors to help ensure their safety in a sport which has such a high degree of risk.
John Hinds was an intensive care consultant and anaesthetist at Craigavon Hospital who dedicated his professional life to saving and helping others.
Many riders owe him their lives, and countless others have had their exposure to serious injury lessened because Dr Hinds was on hand very quickly to provide help.
To put his own safety at risk in this way was the ultimate selfless gesture, and only weeks ago he treated seriously injured people following a major crash at the North West 200.
Dr Hinds cared passionately about his work - so much so that he launched a campaign to ensure that Northern Ireland had its own air ambulance.
He believed rightly that it would save lives in road racing, and for the people of the province in general.
Just weeks ago Dr Hinds told this newspaper in an interview that it was not good enough for the people of Northern Ireland to be left behind the rest of the UK in this key aspect of public safety. He said that the current position was unacceptable, and added that if someone is injured in other parts of the British Isles, there is an air ambulance ready to be despatched.
In Northern Ireland, however, "victims are often just driven to the nearest small hospital by ambulance".
The point could not have been made more clearly, or more urgently.
Following Dr Hinds' death at the weekend, a petition was set up to call for an air ambulance to be provided for Northern Ireland as soon as possible.
By last night it was signed by more than 20,000 people, and without doubt this figure will increase significantly in the days to come.
There could be no more fitting tribute to this brave young doctor than to make his wish for an air ambulance for Northern Ireland come true.