Drew Ashton who lives in Lisnaskea was aged 14 when he needed the Air Ambulance NI team in May 2019.

His mum Tracey Ashton was watching Drew get off the school bus when he was hit by a car when crossing the road to meet her. The collision sent him 25 feet in the air and he landed on his backpack.

“It could have been a very different situation if we didn’t have the doctor at the scene who came with the Air Ambulance,” said Tracey.

Drew was unconscious when he hit the ground but Tracey, who is trained in first aid, brought him back round to consciousness: “He was speaking to me coherently but obviously he was still in shock and then after 10 minutes he started to get agitated because he realised something was going on. When the Air Ambulance arrived they put Drew into a medically induced coma at the side of the road which he then took a fit to as his body was trying to fight being taken over.

“With the nature of what they thought his injuries could be, with his fractured skull, they decided that it was best.”

Drew was then flown to The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

“The Air Ambulance got him there quickly. I was so grateful that the Air Ambulance was there because we’re in such a rural area, it would have taken an hour and a half to drive Drew there,” shared Tracey.

Outlining Drew’s injuries, Tracey said: “He had a fractured skull, a haematoma behind his eye, a fractured bone in his hand and a swollen knee. He went in on the Friday evening and he was released on the Wednesday morning but without the quick response of the Air Ambulance putting him into a medically induced coma, things could have been a lot different for Drew at that time. He might have sustained further injuries.”

“With the swift action of the Air Ambulance, I truly believe to this day that that’s why Drew survived and came out of it with only the injuries that he had, it could have been a lot worse,” shared Tracey, noting that Drew has since made a full recovery.

Since the charity Air Ambulance NI service started almost three years ago, it has been tasked 1,487 times, 112 of those call outs were to the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area. That equates to an average of just over three calls per month.

The Air Ambulance NI provides the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for Northern Ireland, together with its partners at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Glenn O’Rorke, Operational Lead for the HEMS said: “The HEMS team have been tasked on 1,487 occasions since inception less than three years ago. Your life can change in an instant, trauma is still here and will continue, despite lockdown and more limited activity in society. Whilst the rate of Road Traffic Collisions has slightly reduced, DIY accidents have increased and the rate of farming, industrial and other accidents has remained. We encourage everyone not to take unnecessary risks, yet we realise accidents happen. If that is the case and we are tasked, the air ambulance can reach anywhere in NI in approximately 25 minutes.”

Kerry Anderson, Head of Fundraising with Air Ambulance NI, said: “Air Ambulance NI is your local charity. With your continued support our medics can fly and continue to provide specialist critical care at scene that can be the difference between life and death. Each day £5,500 is needed and like every charity, we are experiencing a massive reduction in fundraising.

“One such example is the M&S stores in Omagh and Enniskillen, both of whom had chosen Air Ambulance NI as their designated charity with funds raised through bag packs. Understandably this has had to be cancelled and means the charity is down on thousands of pounds. Yet we know your helicopter service inspires support and if everyone does a little the air ambulance will be here now and for generations to come.”

One of the simplest ways to support the charity is by becoming a member of Club AANI. Club AANI members donate monthly through direct debit. Over 800 people so far have become members. You can join at www.airambulanceni.org. or call the charity on 028 9262 2677.