Dr John Hinds saved my husband's life, now Northern Ireland needs an air ambulance in his honour
The wife of a motorbike racer almost killed in a 130mph smash has supported calls for an air ambulance in Northern Ireland.
Michelle Morrell’s husband Ian crashed at the Kells course three weeks ago and track medic Dr John Hinds spent 45 minutes resuscitating Ian before he was airlifted to the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
Dr Hinds, who had campaigned for a dedicated helicopter for medical emergencies, was killed himself just two weeks later.
“All the riders felt like Dr John was their guardian angel and he certainly was ours,” said Portstewart mum-of-three Michelle.
“It took 45 minutes for Dr John to inflate Ian’s lungs before he was stable enough to fly in the air ambulance but the fact that they could get him to hospital so quickly meant that his chances were much better.”
After Dr Hinds’s death, an online petition was launched by bike fan John Allen to get an air ambulance in Northern Ireland.
The campaign — on change.org — already has the backing of over 44,000 people.
“With going through what I’ve been through in the last few weeks, I’ve realised that an air ambulance is so important,” said Michelle.
“It’s not just for men who want to go out and race motorbikes but there are other reasons why they could do with it, like an accident in the mountains.”
Sunday Life today publishes one of the poignant last pictures to be taken of Dr Hinds during a practice session at the Skerries 100 race in Dublin on Friday July 3.
He was captured on camera going about his duties a short time before the crash that claimed his life.
The popular doctor had spoken out in the media backing an air ambulance and had even met Stormont health minister Simon Hamilton to discuss the issue.
At Dr Hinds’ funeral in St Patrick’s Church in Portaferry, Co Down on Thursday, his family vowed to continue the campaign and urged members of the public to sign a petition in memory of the doctor from Tandragee.
Michelle explained: “When they took Ian in the helicopter they said it was 50/50 whether or not he would make it.
“The injuries he sustained were bad enough but because of the type of accident he had they should have been so much worse.
“The helicopter that came for Ian was on standby in Athlone — it was army based — and they were there in minutes to airlift Ian to hospital. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if it wasn’t for Dr John and that air ambulance because I know that Ian probably wouldn’t be here.
“The amount of signatures on the petition shows just how much people support the idea and although I never really appreciated it enough before, I know how important those helicopters are.”
She added: “It has scared Ian what has happened because he knows that he was dead at the scene before Dr John brought him back.
“Now that he’s off the morphine on the button, he’s started realising more and more what has actually happened and is thinking about all the people who helped get him better.”
Ian crashed at one of the most dangerous parts of the course after his knee clipped some grass and he was flung into a wall, breaking almost every bone in his body and severely damaging his lungs.
“His head was in the right place but it’s just more now that the time has passed and he’s had more time to think about it that he’s started to come to terms with what has actually happened,” said Michelle.
“The riders always knew that the doctors were behind them and if they ever needed them, Dr John in particular would do everything to make sure they were all okay and get them to wherever they needed to be.
“Ian knows in his head that there’s always a great medical team but they will all miss Dr John terribly. He really did save Ian’s life.”
She added: “He is finding it difficult dealing with the fact that he won’t ever get to see him again or be able to thank him properly.”
Earlier in the week, doctors took Ian off the morphine that he was administering to himself through a button and the Portstewart family now face a nervous wait for scan results following an agonising few days for Ian.
The experienced rider, who has achieved a number of major wins during his career, has no power in his right arm and is coping with a painful knee complaint.
“He’s alive and that’s the most important thing. I couldn’t imagine the three kids living their lives without their daddy so I’ll never be able to thank all who have helped him,” said Michelle.
“It’s breaking Ian’s heart being down in Dublin and not seeing the three of them, but hopefully once he improves a bit and there’s a bed available we’ll get him moved up to Belfast.”
She added: “I say to Ian that he’s on the other side of the grass now and now he has to fight for it and I’ll be there fighting with him. We’ll all be there with him every step of the way.”