Air Ambulance appeal for local volunteers

The air ambulance.
The air ambulance.

Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI) is seeking 400 volunteers to raise £2 million needed to keep the vital service operational.

The charity says that this sum is crucial to enable provision for the next 12 months.

A local volunteer information session has been organised for Thursday May 10 at the Royal Hotel, in Cookstown, at 7.30pm.

Gary Wilson, AANI Area Fundraising Manager for Fermanagh and Tyrone, said: “A range of volunteer roles is available to suit your skills and time available.

“For example, it may be that you want to help at a couple of events each year; or you could volunteer in your own time, placing collection boxes in your own community.

“Or it may suit you to undertake training to become a community volunteer where you’d be proactively speaking about the charity and encouraging local support.”

AANI, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), provides the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for the region and from its base in Lisburn it can reach any part of Northern Ireland in approximately 25 minutes.

The service’s 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.

The air ambulance has been tasked on approximately 280 missions since it was launched last July.

AANI estimates that this year it will be attending over 300 events across Northern Ireland where the support and enthusiasm of local volunteers will be needed to help with fundraising activity and events to raise awareness.

Gary continued: “We are also keen to develop a number of voluntary fundraising groups in Northern Ireland, so there are plenty of opportunities.”

“If you would like to get involved please contact us by email at info@airambulanceni.org or call us on 028 9262 2677.”

The events range from awareness stands in shopping centres to community and fundraising events organised by members of the public which are taking place the length and breadth of Northern Ireland. Two headline events in 2018 are the North West 200 from 13-19 May, where AANI is the official charity partner, and The Balmoral Show from 16-19 May which is just next to the charity’s helicopter base.

Cathal Cunning, an AANI volunteer from Portstewart, said: “Volunteering with AANI gives me huge satisfaction as fundraising and raising awareness of the charity can help save lives. I would encourage anyone to volunteer because of how rewarding it is and even if you only have a few hours, that’s enough. Each time Air Ambulance NI is tasked to an emergency, that’s my reward.

“For those who want to support the charity but cannot volunteer, become 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 an annual members’ event.”