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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Be a dragon in team boat paddle challenge for Air Ambulance NI

HEMS Dr. Catherine Bell (back of boat), HEMS Operational Lead Glenn O’Rorke (middle of boat), HEMS Paramedic Mike Patton (middle of boat) and Marketing and Communications Specialist at firmus energy Ciara Magill.

Air Ambulance Northern Ireland is launching its inaugural Dragon Boat Race Championship on Friday 10 September 2021.

The charity which recently reported a significant increase in its call out rates, is hosting this fun and competitive event to raise vital funds that have been seriously impacted during the health pandemic.

Air Ambulance NI is offering your workplace, sports club, community group or family the chance to be a ‘Dragon’ and paddle up the River Lagan, pacing yourself against competitors to win the coveted overall champion cup for fastest time.

The Dragon Boats hold 12-20 rowers plus one optional drummer. All skill levels and physiques can paddle, making it the ultimate team building sport or fun day out!

Air Ambulance NI have entered their own team into the race made up of doctors and paramedics who work on the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS). The highly skilled medical team are challenging the public to compete against them for the fastest time.

HEMS Dr. Catherine Bell, HEMS Operational Lead Glenn O’Rorke, HEMS Paramedic Mike Patton.

In a light-hearted comment, Glenn O’Rorke, HEMS Operational Lead said:

“We’ve submitted an Air Ambulance Northern Ireland team and are all really looking forward to the event. If anyone would like a shot at the title, I challenge you to join us on the 10th September.”

Making the event even more entertaining will be a range of prizes for Best Fancy Dress, Best Team Spirit and Fundraising Champions. All safety elements are covered with each Dragon boat having at the helm a qualified instructor. After racing, competitors will enjoy a BBQ, team photos and prize giving. Sign up now online at:

for £500 per team – that’s just £25 per person for a team of 20. Each team is encouraged to raise £1500 to keep the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service able to reach critically ill and injured patients, bringing emergency pre-hospital care direct to the casualty with the aim of saving lives, brains and limbs!

The charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, provides the HEMS for Northern Ireland. The service brings urgent medical assistance to anywhere in the province, operating seven days a week for 12 hours per day. It can get to anywhere in Northern Ireland in approximately twenty-five minutes. From inception to May 2021 the medical crew have been tasked 2,266 times. The service was called out on 229 occasions from January – March 2021, an increase of 30% on the previous year and a 73% increase from 2018.

HEMS Dr. Catherine Bell (back of boat), HEMS Operational Lead Glenn O’Rorke (middle of boat) and HEMS Paramedic Mike Patton (front of boat).

Air Ambulance NI needs to raise £2million each year to maintain this life-saving service so having the public participate in events such as the Dragon Boat Race is crucial. If this particular event isn’t for you there are lots of other ways to support available online at Alternatively, you can contact the charity directly by emailing or calling 028 9262 2677.


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