Wednesday 2 May 2018: Mr Gary Wilson, NI Air Ambulance
In his capacity as Area Fund Raising Manager Mr Wilson described Air Ambulance NI as Northern Ireland’s newest and most exciting charity. The service, he explained, was 12 months in existence after 12 years of lobbying, championed by motor-cycling enthusiast, Dr John Hinds. Its first rescue mission took place on 22 July 2017 on the day it was commissioned when the helicopter was called in to take to hospital a young man who had sustained severe crush injuries in a farm accident. Based at the Maze it has been called out over 300 times since then and can reach any part of the Province in less than 30 minutes. A second helicopter is based at St Angelo in Enniskillen where it is used mainly for training and exists as a back-up, in that the charity cannot yet afford to operate two helicopters. The operating costs of the one helicopter are in the order of £2 million per year – a challenging target for the charity’s fundraisers. Air Ambulance NI is a partnership between the Charity, Babcock Aviation and the NI Ambulance Service. Although capable of taking people to hospital it is essentially an airborne A & E Unit, crewed by a pilot, a doctor and paramedic all of whom have undergone specialised training. Gary’s talk gave rise to many questions such as why such a worthwhile service was not in receipt of any government funding – a question which only politicians can address. He was warmly thanked for a most informative talk by club member, Eamon Cunningham.