THIS September, Air Am-bulance Northern Ireland (AANI) is celebrating its first National Air Ambulance Week. To celebrate, AANI will be holding a month-long campaign with over 50 events taking place across NI and will also be marking the occasion with the launch of its new corporate ‘High Flyers’ programme.
The National Air Ambulance Week campaign takes place in the second week of September each year and aims to recognise the work of air ambulances across the UK.
The annual campaign is an opportunity to celebrate and promote the great work undertaken by Air Ambulance charities both locally and on a national scale.
The charity, AANI, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Am-bulance Service (NIAS), provides the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for the region and responds to seriously ill or injured patients 12 hours a day, seven days per week.
Since July 2017, the air ambulance has been tasked to over 450 emergencies across Northern Ire-
land, providing advanced pre-hospital critical care to patients. The fundraising will help raise the £2 million required each year to keep this vital service operational.
Speaking about the campaign, AANI Chairman Ian Crowe said: “Having only launched in July 2017 this is the first time that we have been able to celebrate National Air Ambulance Week and we are delighted to be able to share our story and highlight the great work done by our team across the whole of Northern Ireland.
“Before last summer, NI was the only region in the UK that did not have a HEMS service and we would like to say a huge thank you to the population of Northern Ireland for their continued support and donations which have allowed this lifesaving service to continue.
“While there has been so much support from the public we do need to continue raising funds to ensure that this vital service remains.
“In addition to the events taking place across NI in the next few weeks, we are also launching our new corporate ‘High Flyers’ programme. Companies can come on board and sponsor a day, or two or three of Air Ambulance running costs which are around £5,500 per day.
“In return they will receive a series of benefits including PR, an annual thank you event, road safety messages for staff and reduced individual Club AANI membership.
“We know that patients are alive today due to the care we provide in conjunction with the whole health service and we encourage businesses to come on board and lend their support.”
From its base near Lisburn, the air ambulance can reach any part of Northern Ireland in approximately 25 minutes.
Its primary role is to deliver advanced critical care, benefitting those whose lives are at serious risk following significant injury or trauma, by bringing urgent medical assistance directly to the patient at the scene.
Events which have already taken place included an abseil at Belfast Castle on September 9, and a ‘24 hour Park Run’ in Ward Park, Bangor, on September 8-9.
The M B McGrady & Co Aqua Challenge will take place at Let’s Go Hydro Aqua Park in Carryduff tomorrow (Friday, September 14).
As well as fundraising events there will also be nine collection days taking place across NI, including Ballymena (September 15), Bangor (September 22), Belfast (September 28), Newry (September 28), Derry (September 28), Armagh (September 29) and Cookstown (September 29) where the public can donate to the Air Ambulance NI charity.
Kerry Anderson, Head of Fund-raising for Air Ambulance Northern Ireland, explains: “We have come such a long way over the past year and are extremely grateful
for the generosity and support of the people of Northern Ireland to date.
“Without this ongoing support and without much needed donations, we will be grounded and the service will not be able to operate.
“The service might just one day save your life or the lives of your loved ones. That’s got to be worth supporting.
“There is also the opportunity for people to join as a member of Club AANI. For a weekly donation of just £2, Club AANI members will receive free branded goodies, on-going discounts from high street retail brands, as well as flash merchandise offers, and an invitation to our annual members event. It’s a simple way to donate and we hope those who can join will do so.”