The first-ever emergency flight of Northern Ireland’s new air ambulance took place at the weekend, following a farming vehicle accident.
The helicopter was taken to pick up a boy in the Castlewellan area of Co Down on Saturday after he was involved in an accident with a tractor.
The Ambulance Service gave no further details of the incident, except to state that the injuries which were suffered by the boy – aged 11 – were “serious”.
The Ambulance Service received reports about the incident at 1.45pm, and a land-based accident and emergency crew was sent to the scene, with the air ambulance – and its on-board doctor – tasked in support.
The Ambulance Service said that the call was thought so severe that it dispatched the helicopter even though the service was still “working through final preparations including training and familiarisation flights ahead of an official media launch of the service planned for early August”.
It said in a statement: “Due to the time critical aspect of the call the patient was airlifted to Belfast and has been taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children for further treatment where we hope he will make a good recovery.”
As of late on Sunday afternoon, the Belfast health trust said his condition was “stable”.
The campaign to create an air ambulance service for the Province had spanned many years; for example, it had been a passion of Newtownards-born Dr John Hinds – who died aged 35 on July 4, 2015, after a motorbike accident. READ ABOUT HIS LIFE AND WORK HERE.
Erstwhile health minister Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Fein had announced on March 1 this year (one day before the Assembly election) that the service would be going ahead, and would be based at the “Maze Long Kesh” site.