Air Ambulance NI delight as Helicopter Emergency Medical Service approved

Northern Ireland's first ever Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is ready for take off after being approved by the Minister for Health, Michelle O'Neill,

One of the two helicopters which will deliver Northern IrelandÄôs first ever Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is in Northern Ireland for a three-day flying visit. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

The primary helicopter will be based at Maze Long Kesh, following an announcement by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on November 17, 2016, making land available. A secondary helicopter will be based at St. Angelo Airport, Enniskillen.

The primary helicopter will provide the main service while the secondary helicopter will be kept on stand-by to ensure minimum down time. The service will be Doctor-led and operate seven days a week for up to 12 hours a day during daylight hours.

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Ian Crowe, Chairman of AANI, said: “We’re delighted the Minister has approved Northern Ireland’s first HEMS service. The service will bring us into line with other regions in the UK and Ireland, and may save between 18 to 50 lives every year. AANI is continuing to work with our partners in Health and Social Care and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, and we expect to commence this lifesaving service within the coming months.

“The support we’ve received from the public and local businesses has been fantastic, and I want to take this opportunity to say thank you and encourage others to get involved. Annual running costs for the service will be £2m and we are relying on the generosity of local people to help us raise these funds.”

Ray Foran, AANI Trustee, added: “The EC135 Airbus helicopters and pilots will be supplied by Babcock Mission Critical Services, the leading provider of 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.”