Your local Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) was called out to 672 potential lifesaving missions throughout 2022. The doctors and paramedics, based just outside of Lisburn, have worked tirelessly for 12 hours per day, 365 days of the year, and despite the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and increased fuel prices, the service has continued to provide frontline critical care across Northern Ireland.
Dr Darren Monaghan, Clinical Lead of the service said, “Reaching a medical emergency in rapid time with highly skilled clinicians can mean the difference between life and death. From roadside blood transfusions to performing emergency surgery to anaesthesia, the crew is specially trained to deliver pre-hospital emergency care to both children and adults. Outside of HEMS these interventions are delivered in a hospital setting which for many patients, may be too late. Our team feel privileged to play their part in patient care, working in partnership with our road ambulance crews and hospital colleagues across the country.”
The dedicated crews were tasked to 672 missions via helicopter and rapid response vehicle.
Interestingly, the percentage of call outs to road traffic collision has increased to pre-covid levels accounting for 31% of taskings, with 20% of call outs to medical incidents, 16% to falls, 11% to workplace accidents including farming, 9% to sport and leisure accidents and 13% missions to other incidents including fires, drownings, self-harm and assault.
Breige Mulholland, Head of Operations at Air Ambulance NI said, “Despite the challenging environment facing everyone, the generosity of the public in Northern Ireland meant the dedicated HEMS crew, who respond to emergencies on average twice per day, could continue attending potentially lifesaving missions across the province. In 2022 our frontline services were enhanced with the provision of an enhanced aviation service, having carried out a competitive tender process, we introduced two AW109 helicopters, capable of travelling at faster speed and greater space within the aircraft. We have plans to further develop in 2023 as we aspire to secure the site for a permanent operational base. The continued demand for our service means we need to raise over £2m a year to continue to deliver the service. We encourage everyone to remember their air ambulance and play their part in saving lives, brains and limbs. There are so many ways to support by donating time as a volunteer or donations and fundraising. You can become a ClubAANI member, run walk or relay in this year’s Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon or take on your own fundraiser. “
Patient William Hutchinson from Desertmartin needed the service in September 2021 after a farming accident when the tractor rolled on top of him resulting in pelvis and arm injuries. William said, “I will always be grateful for the treatment from the air ambulance doctor and paramedic and the pilot who flew me swiftly for onward care. I have made a remarkable recovery and am back to farming.”
HEMS is provided by a partnership between the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the charity, Air Ambulance NI. For more information on the charity and ways to support please go to www.airambulanceni.org