SDLP MLA Colin McGrath has said that the formal launch of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service is a watershed moment for emergency response care in Northern Ireland that will save lives.
The South Down MLA also called for a sustainable funding stream for the service.
McGrath said: “The formal launch of the HEMS Air Ambulance is a watershed moment for emergency response care. Journeys with patients facing acute medical conditions or trauma that would otherwise have taken over an hour can now be completed in minutes, giving those in need of care the best chance of recovery.
“The campaign for this service has been long and gruelling. But the determination of people such as Dr John Hinds and others over 12 years has ensured that we can now reach isolated parts of this constituency in a fraction of the time. That will result in better patient outcomes.
“What’s vital now is that we ensure funding for the service is sustainable and not reliant on public donations to continue. This must be a priority for all parties and underscores the critical need to establish power sharing institutions in the North.
“We’ve already seen the impact that the service can have after it was deployed from a training exercise to bring 11-year-old Conor McMullan to hospital following a tractor accident in Castlewellan. The first deployment of the Air Ambulance reduced a journey time of an hour to eight minutes. That’s critical and I have no doubt it’ll save lives in our communities as well,” added Mr McGrath.