Air ambulance would make 'lasting difference' says partner

Clockwise from left: Dr John Hinds, known as the flying doctor who was killed in Skerries 100 in July. Dr John's partner Dr Janet Acheson is joined by seven-year-old Shaun McCann at Stormont where a renewed appeal was made for an emergency medical helicopter service. Dr Hinds had been involved in saving Shaun's life by helicopter after he had a fall at his Roscommon home in 2013. Dr Brian Burns, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine from Sydney HEMS
Marie Louise McConville

THE partner of a doctor who fought tirelessly for an air ambulance for Northern Ireland before his sudden death appeared at Stormont to plead for the service to be made "a reality".

Dr Janet Acheson, a consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, spoke at the Senate Chamber saying how the establishment of such a life-saving service "cannot wait any longer".

Dr Hinds, who was killed in a road accident in July, was a consultant anaesthetist at Craigavon Area Hospital. He was a fierce supporter of a dedicated, doctor-led emergency helicopter service for Northern Ireland and had campaigned tirelessly for its introduction.

The 35-year-old, from Tandragee in Co Armagh, was providing medical cover at the Skerries 100 motorcycle race in Dublin when he was killed.

Nicknamed one of the "flying doctors" of Irish motorcycle racing for the lifesaving support he provided during high speed bike races, Dr Hinds, who was also known as `Doc John', was a strong advocate for a regional air ambulance and had met Health Minister Simon Hamilton to discuss the issue.

Following his death, his family vowed to continue his campaign, urging the public to sign a petition in his memory.

His partner, Dr Janet Acheson told Stormont that a properly structured Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) would "make a lasting difference to the people of this country".

Also present at the event were a number of medical personnel and Dr Brian Burns, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine from Sydney HEMS.

Describing Dr Hinds as an "inspirational person who should be here", Dr Acheson said she believed there was "no better legacy to my incredible other half, than saving lives".

"The support for John’s work - which he was so passionate about- has been humbling, at times overwhelming but most of all inspiring. It has also given us strength through some very tough days,” she said.

"John’s dream for the country he lived in was the establishment of a first-class, world-leading trauma network - with a doctor-led Helicopter Emergency Medical Service at its core".

Dr Acheson acknowledged a consultation launched last month on the establishment of a HEMS and trauma network in Northern Ireland.

She said it was the belief that the service should be funded in the long term by the government but that initial and ongoing charitable support may be needed.

She also highlighted the fact that 1,508 people had died in road collisions in the north between 2003 and June this year and said more lives could have been saved if HEMS had been available.

"Considering the survival impact of a doctor-led HEMS in countries who have adopted such services, between 215 and 600 of these people would still be alive had HEMS been available in Northern Ireland," she said.

She added: “Today, there are people enjoying time with their families and friends, who some time in the future will end up in a very serious medical emergency.

"Their lives will be on the line. This Service cannot wait any longer.

"I urge you all today to do everything you can to turn it into a reality. Please make it happen. The world is watching".


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