Belfast Telegraph

John Hinds air ambulance campaign backed by mum of girl saved by copter

By Rebecca Black

The mother of a child whose life was saved by the availability of the PSNI helicopter following a freak accident has backed calls for an air ambulance.

Colette Casement's daughter Alanna was left seriously ill a year ago after falling off her bike at Castlewellan Forest Park in Co Down.

The PSNI helicopter was able to bring the 12-year-old to the Royal Victoria Hospital swiftly, but Colette said she was painfully aware that her daughter may not have survived if that helicopter had not been available.

Now as tens of thousands sign an online petition calling for an air ambulance service following the tragic death of road racing medic - and avid air ambulance campaigner - Dr John Hinds, Colette has spoken out, backing the proposal.

"I think an air ambulance would be a fantastic idea," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"We were lucky that the PSNI helicopter was able to come and save Alanna, but if that service is ever stopped or is unavailable, it is vital to have some sort of air support. Without air support our family would have had a very different ending."

She described it as "painfully ironic" that as her family were celebrating Alanna's survival a year on from the crash, that Dr Hinds, a strong campaigner for an air ambulance, had died.

"As we celebrated Alanna's life, we were aware that he had died," she said.

"I would be an advocate for an air ambulance because with all the budget cuts we are facing, will the police always be able to continue this vital service?

"It costs so much for the PSNI to operate their helicopter and to be able to provide a service."

Colette says her family are "eternally grateful" to the PSNI for their help in getting her daughter to hospital so quickly.

She said last year it would never have occurred to her that a member of her family's life might depend on such a service, pointing out that the speed that the ambulance was able to get her daughter to hospital most likely saved her life.

"I was not there on the day of the accident, but from the photographs and being up in the helicopter what struck me was the speed at which everything happened," she said.

"We didn't think in July last year that we would have ever needed something like this," she said. "It was so simple, she was out on her bike enjoying herself.

"It would put my mind at rest to know there was a service like an air ambulance to help others in the future."

One year on from the accident, Colette said it was poignant for the helicopter crew to meet Alanna again, saying there is not always such a happy ending.

"The pilot was fabulous, relaying messages from the paramedic to the Royal, you need people like that, experts," she said.

"We will be eternally grateful to them."

 To commemorate John’s legacy the family have said they would appreciate people to continue signing the petition here

Final journey

Wednesday July 8

Close friends and colleagues welcome to Janet and John's home from 9am-noon.

Close friends and colleagues welcome to John's family home at 4 Ballygarvigan Road Portaferry from 5pm-10pm and Thursday from 11.30am.


Friends and family welcome to join the funeral cortege from Ballygarvin Road on three-mile journey to St Patrick's RC Church Ballyphilip Road, Portaferry for requiem mass at 2pm.

Further reading

NW200 woman saved by Dr John Hinds calls for an air ambulance in his memory

Eamonn: Emergency helicopter could have saved dad

Motorcycling world mourning for 'Flying Doctor' John Hinds

Irish road racing doctor John Hinds dies after practice session crash in Republic 

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