Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Northern Ireland Air Ambulance lifts off in Belfast

By Jonny Bell

Air Ambulance Northern Ireland unveiled its primary helicopter at Titanic Belfast on Wednesday.

Two air ambulances, providing 24-hour cover across Northern Ireland are set to enter service.

It's hoped the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) will save up to 50 lives a year.

A date has not been set for it to begin operations, however, the health minister is expected to make an announcement later this month.

One of the two helicopters arrived in Belfast today for a three-day flying visit. It will be the primary aircraft with the second on standby to ensure no break in cover.

The two EC135 twin-engine Airbus helicopters were designed specifically with emergency services operations in mind and come fully equipped for HEMS and air ambulance operations.

The main helicopter will also be equipped with weather radar to maximise its effectiveness.

Ian Crowe, Chairman of Air Ambulance Northern Ireland, said: “We’re delighted to publicly unveil the actual helicopter which will provide Northern Ireland’s first HEMS service. The service will bring us into line with other regions in the UK and Ireland, and will help save an expected 18 to 50 lives every year.

“The support we’ve received from the public and local businesses has been fantastic, and this visit is an opportunity to say thank you and encourage others to get involved. Annual running costs for the service will be £1.8m and we’re relying on the generosity of local people to help us raise these funds.

“AANI is continuing to work with our partners in Health and Social Care to establish this lifesaving service, and we expect that the Health Minister will make a further announcement about the commencement of the service by the end of November.

The helicopters and pilots will be supplied by Babcock Mission Critical Services, the leading provider of Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) across the UK. Operating from more than 20 bases Babcock responds to hundreds of emergency calls every week. The medical staff and equipment will be provided and funded by Health and Social Care services.

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