Northern Ireland’s air ambulance service evaluated

According to the new review released by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) and the charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI), there have been a total of 297 HEMS call outs in the country since July 2017, a figure which the services say represents ‘positive progress in meeting the objective to deliver a doctor/ paramedic service as a partnership’.

Northern Ireland’s HEMS service went live in July 2017, so the review was key to finding out how it had progressed. The report found that 80.7 per cent of incidents were reached within 20 minutes, and that its helicopter was available for 97.2 per cent of its operational hours – higher than the UK best practice of 91 per cent. The findings of the report were compared to the Association of Air Ambulances framework for a High Performing Air Ambulance Service.

“NIAS has been working together with our charity partner, Air Ambulance NI, to deliver this doctor/paramedic helicopter emergency medical service,” commented NIAS Chief Executive Michael Bloomfield. “We welcome the opportunity to publish this first report detailing the excellent progress the service has made in the first nine months since it was established. This is thanks to the dedicated team of doctors and paramedics providing the medical service and the charity staff who continue to work on supporting the service through their fundraising efforts and engagement of hundreds of volunteers in the background to provide the helicopters and pilots.”

Air Ambulance NI needs to raise £2 million a year to operate. It set itself the target of raising £1 million in its first 22 month to match grant funding, and has said that although the target was reached more quickly than expected, there is still a long way to go to ensure the £1 million is doubled to £2 million and that it can be achieved annually and consistently. The charity does however believe that, with continued support from the public, it will raise enough funds by year three to fully fund year four.

Ian Crowe, Chairman of Air Ambulance NI, said: “As Air Ambulance NI approaches its first year of operational service for the citizens and visitors of Northern Ireland, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our operational partners NIAS, especially our doctors and paramedics, for their professional commitment not only during their duty shift but for the support and promotion of the charity through this time.”

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