Air Ambulance Week 2022 is taking off across the UK from 5 – 11 September to raise awareness of the lifesaving work of air ambulance charities including our local charity, Air Ambulance Northern Ireland. This year, the charity is highlighting what a typical week looks like for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), which is provided in full partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
The last thing anyone expects their week to entail is a visit from the air ambulance team but sadly, they make on average 14 missions each week, to critically ill or injured patients. In that moment when the worst happens, it is reassuring to many of us that the air ambulance team is there, with a consultant doctor and an experienced paramedic, ready to respond.
In the 5 years of operation, the HEMS have been tasked on 3093 occasions and 250 of those have been to the Mid and East Antrim council area.
The range of incidents varies from day to day, as Operational Lead for the HEMS,
Glenn O’Rorke, explains:
“We make around 14 missions a week, forming an important part of the emergency services right across NI. Each patient and situation we go to is unique and the patients we care for are at the center of everything we do. An average week would include at least 3 serious road traffic collisions, 3 medical emergencies, 3 falls, 1 farm accident, 1 industrial accident, 1 serious sport related accident, 1 assault and 1 other accident, which could be deliberate self-harm, serious burns or drowning, to name a few. We feel privileged to help at the scene of an incident, giving patients critical care, that may make a lifesaving difference.”
Air ambulance crews bring the skills and expertise of a hospital to the scene of an emergency, performing complex procedures using advanced equipment and drugs that improve survival rates.
The HEMS has been needed on 414 occasions this year alone (to end July).
One such patient was, Joe Kidd from Broughshane who almost lost his thumb and finger at the end of last year. Joe’s thumb was able to be saved and he is now back to work as a plasterer.
Here in Northern Ireland, the medical team is provided by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, with the charity funding the helicopter, fuel and airbase. Each mission requires fundraising of around £2750 so with 14 call outs per week, public support is crucial.
Air Ambulance NI is calling on people all over NI to play their part by ‘becoming a member this September’ - of the charity’s membership club, ‘Club AANI’.
Kerry Anderson said:
“By becoming a member this September you will join a club of almost 1500 members, all from various walks of life and backgrounds but all of whom are passionate about sustaining air ambulance. Most members establish a monthly direct debit starting at just £8, not a lot of money but crucial to saving lives. Already, our members fund over two days of missions each month, which is wonderful.
“We try our best to look after our members by inviting everyone to an annual BBQ to see the helicopter and share updates through a monthly e-zine. Members can show their support publicly with a car sticker, pin badge and branded notebook. We also have a membership programme for children and young people, called Junior Club. Signing up as a member is very easy through our website or by giving us a call.”
If you’d like to become a Club AANI member please join at www.airambulanceni.org or call the charity on 028 9262 2677.