Success of Northern Ireland air ambulance highlighted in new report
The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) responded to 297 calls in less than a year, according to a new report.
That equates to an average of one a day in the nine months from its July 2017 launch to March 2018.
The report also showed 80.7% of incidents were reached within 20 minutes, and that the HEMS team was available for 97.2% of operational hours.
This significantly exceeded the UK best practice target of 91%.
The report, conducted by the Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI), revealed positive progress in meeting its joint objective of delivering the crucial service in line with quality standards and targets.
Ambulance Service chief executive Michael Bloomfield welcomed the findings and thanked the dedicated team of doctors, paramedics and fundraisers who had saved lives.
"Together we will continue to ensure that this vital service delivers the highest quality in patient care for those in the pre-hospital emergency environment," he added.
The air ambulance, which is on standby between 7am and 7pm on a daily basis, responds to severely ill or injured patients from its Lisburn base. It aims to reach any part of Northern Ireland in approximately 30 minutes.
The helicopter attended most incidents requested, with a rapid response car being deployed only when air travel was not possible.
The AANI charity, which needs to raise £2 million annually to maintain the service, set an ambitious target of raising £1m in its first 22 months to match grant funding.
It has already raised more than that target.
Chairman Ian Crowe thanked everyone who had made the crucial work possible and appealed to the public to continue offering their support. "AANI is establishing itself as a charity worthy of support and one of the easiest ways to do this is by becoming a member of Club AANI," he said.
Mr Crowe hopes to raise enough money by year three to fully fund year four costs.