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Raymond McCartney MLA calls for support for Air ambulance Charity

14 November, 2007

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on Health Ministers, Michael McGimpsey MLA and Mary Harney TD to throw their weight behind Alfa 5 Air Ambulance Group the charity set up to establish an air ambulance service and to look into the feasibility of government assistance for a dedicated Air Ambulance service to cover the North and the border counties.

Mr McCartney said:

"A charity known as the Alpha 5 Ireland Air Ambulance group has launched a campaign to raise the funds to buy and help run a purpose-built Air Ambulance helicopter with the aim of getting sick and injured people to hospital within the "golden hour". The group says it hopes to place the order for the aircraft within the next three years by putting down a deposit of £500,000.

"According to Alpha 5 the service will be unique in that a doctor specialising in trauma care will be aboard, along with a paramedic, to bring hospital-standard care and equipment to the victim at the scene. The doctor will be able to perform life-saving procedures on the spot and while the casualty is being transported to the appropriate hospital. The estimated time to scramble the helicopter is about three minutes which would bring the whole of the North and border counties within the golden hour timeframe.

"With the ever increasing demands placed on our emergency services to reach the scene of accidents as quickly as possible, against a backdrop of road gridlock, it's clear we need to be looking at new ways of enhancing our emergency services .One way that we could improve those services is the introduction of a dedicated Air Ambulance to service the North and the border counties .

"I would urge Health Ministers, Michael McGimpsey and Mary Harney to look into the feasibility of government assistance to help get such a service off the ground. An air ambulance service would alleviate the pressures on the ambulance services while delivering expert medical personnel to the scene as quickly as possible.

"Speed is crucial whether in emergency situations or accessing isolated communities. Getting fast and appropriate medical attention is vital , and there is an increased chance of survival if the patient receives specialist trauma treatment within 60 minutes of an accident - the 'golden hour'. The air ambulance could take accidents victims and other emergency cases to the nearest hospital, be in it Derry, Letterkenny, Sligo or Belfast.

"I am writing to Alfa 5 to request further details and to enquire as to how best elected representatives can assist in making this project a reality." ENDS

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