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NI Air Ambulance weeks away from lift off

It has been a while in the making, and more than a few hurdles to get over, but Northern Ireland will soon have its own Air Ambulance.

The last remaining region of UK will have a primary based helicopter at Maze/Long Kesh with a secondary, always on standby helicopter, stationed at St Angelo Airport, Enniskillen.

For many, the delivery of this invaluable service can’t come soon enough – given that the all too soon death of Dr John Hinds, one of the earliest proponents of such a service, helped focus the minds of local politicians to ensure actions were taken to establish it. After dealing with financial challenges, planning laws and building alterations, the news of its operational timescales – over the next 3 months – was heralded by many, including Sinn Féin’s Pat Sheehan who said, “I welcome today’s announcement that my party colleague and health minister Michelle O’Neill has approved the North’s first Helicopter Emergency Medical Service. 

This will provide a live–saving service across the North and will operate seven days a week, providing a doctor–led service. 

This announcement by Michelle O’Neill follows the move by Martin McGuinness as deputy First Minister to make land available at Long Kesh as a base for the service. 

This is a credit to the many people who campaigned for this service, including the late Dr John Hinds.”

DUP’s Arlene Foster, former First Minister, said: “This is wonderful news for Northern Ireland today and one which the trustees of Air Ambulance Northern Ireland should take great delight in. They are to be commended for the tireless work they committed to, to ensure that Northern Ireland had this important, life saving service.

Today’s news follows on from the announcement I made in November, along with the then Deputy First Minister, that a primary helicopter would be based at the Maze Long Kesh site. I am delighted that a secondary helicopter will be based in my own constituency at St. Angelo Airport, which will ensure swift access to the most rural parts of Northern Ireland.
There is no doubt that the approval of the Doctor led, Air Ambulance as a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service will save lives and bring Northern Ireland into line with the medical treatment other parts of the UK have access to. It is a real boost to the Health Service in Northern Ireland who will partner with the Air Ambulance for Northern Ireland.”

All in all, great news for the population of Northern Ireland.