Dear Theresa May,
available for the service and in July 2017 it took off from a base at the former Maze prison.
The air ambulance responded to 500 emergencies in its first year and doctors say people are alive today because of the service.
Some of the body-cam and on-board helicopter footage in the documentary is remarkable.
Pilot Dave O’Toole says the paramedics who sit beside him in the front of the helicopter are a huge help to him, because they assist in the navigation and the operation of the radios.
In one mission, a helicopter is seen landing in a field in Co Down, where Hilltown teenager Colm McAleavey sustained leg injuries in a tractor accident.
“I started panicking and freaking out,” says Colm, but the crew who disembark from the helicopter instantly try to reassure him that he will be all right and they’ll be with him all the way to hospital.
Stuart Stevenson tells the documentary-makers that the priority is to remain calm and professional and not to “run about like a headless chicken”.
Mum Sinead McAleavey, who says she feared the worst, adds that the helicopter crew were good to her son, adding: “They kept him talking and talked him through everything that was happening and reassured him.”
Two of the other survivors were both motorcyclists who were injured in accidents.
Several HEMS medics say that, even though bikers may have the best of safety equipment from head to toe, the potential for injury is still high and they stress for need in getting all patients to hospital.
Medic Robbie Thorpe says: “We talk a lot about the ‘golden hour’ of delivering the care and, if we can get there and deliver those life-saving interventions within a short space of time, it really does improve morbidity and mortality associated with major trauma.”
Motorbike enthusiast Shaun Attwood says the air ambulance crew who turned out after his machine collided with a car saved him.
He adds: “The idea of bringing the emergency department in the middle of that road is just unbelievable.”
Also seen in the footage is George McMaster, who says he owes his life to the air ambulance. He remembers nothing about his accident, which happened near Ballywalter, Co Down.
George didn’t wake up for two months and discovered he’d broken his arm, eight ribs, a shoulder blade and bones in his neck, as well as having perforated lungs, along with two brain bleeds.
“I wouldn’t have made it to hospital without the air ambulance,” says George. “Ambulancemen and doctors said I shouldn’t be alive.”
The last word in the documentary goes to Janet Acheson, who, looking for a positive from her partner’s death, says it put the air ambulance discussions into the public domain in a way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Janet, who treasures a tiny model of a London air ambulance that John’s mother bought for him, says his passing gave her a purpose in life — to finish his HEMS campaign.
“For me, it was an extension of the love we had felt for each other.
“I would always have been angry with myself if I hadn’t got it over the line for him.”
Air Ambulance and the Flying Doctors will be shown on BBC One Northern Ireland, Monday, 9pm
and, yes, before we start, I do know that right now you’re up to your oxters in Brexit and backstops and so might not be thrilled to be getting additional unsolicited mail from the likes of me.
But in a week in which we’ve learnt that the heir to the throne Prince Charles has such a work ethic that he often labours late at night, waking up slumped over his desk with bits of paper stuck to his face (according to his sons, anyway), I’m sure you’ll want to be seen to display a similar dedication to catching up on correspondence.
And besides, that Leo Varadkar is always getting letters from here.
Don’t want you to feel left out.
I’m assuming once you saw the Northern Ireland postmark you immediately thought “border”.
After all, it’s all anyone in the Cabinet and the EU Commission ever talks about these days. How do you want your border — hard, soft or medium-rare?
Never before in history has the potential flexibility of any frontier been so argued, analysed, discussed and debated. Brexit is all about the border. So it follows that nothing else over here right now matters at Westminster.
This, despite the fact that we appear to be going down the tubes and nobody anywhere seems to care. Our health service is in crisis, schools are strained to the limit, Stormont has been revealed as a cesspit and unelected civil servants are left to carry the can... but it’s all about the border, isn’t it?
Your Government gives the impression it couldn’t care less what happens upwind of that thin red line on the map. So long as they can sort Brexit, who cares if the rest of the country is actually in free-fall?
So, yes, as I said, Theresa, I do know that you’ve such a lot on your plate right now. And that to you, the very thought of even thinking about direct rule will be anathema. But here’s the thing — how much longer can you allow this rot to fester?
I’m not even a fan of direct rule. Like most people here, I imagine, I’ve always believed that we’d make a better fist of running the place ourselves than handing responsibility (back) over to an outside Secretary of State.
But reading headline after scandalous (and it has to be said, sickening) headline in the last few months, I’ve reached the point where I just can’t see how we can — in the short-term, anyway — have trust in a local Assembly again.
RHI, SIF, Spads: it’s a whole alphabet of dodgy dealing. And no party in the Assembly comes out of it looking
❝ It really does improve the morbidity and mortality assocated with major trauma
It’s not a backstop we need. It’s a back-step.
We need a proper breathing space — and most importantly, someone to come in, clean up this mess and actually start to run the place properly.
For the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland.
It may have suited everybody, for a time, to turn a blind eye and hope our warring parties would sort themselves out and get the show — however shabby — back on the road.
But that isn’t happening.
And busy though you undoubtedly are, Prime Minister, the buck now stops with you. You may be at Brexit point, Theresa. But we are at breaking point.
You’re focused on the border. We’re hovering on the edge. QUOTE of the week comes from Emile Ratelband (right), a positivity guru, whatever that is. Inspired by people self-designating as a different gender, Emile wishes to self-designate as 20 years younger and has taken his campaign to court, arguing: “When I’m 69, I am limited. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work. When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer. When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.” However he designates, old Emile obviously does not suffer from self-esteem issues. WE all have our various reasons why to chose to buy or not buy a poppy at this time of the year. And I have absolutely no problem with those who decide not to. Your choice entirely.
But there are a few reasons why I feel very strongly myself about buying and wearing the poppy. And this year, on the centenary of the end of the “war to end all wars”, one in particular is very much in my thoughts.
He was a young man of 31 years called William McIlvenna. He came originally from Co Antrim but he’d emigrated to Canada and, when war came, he’d enlisted with the Canadian Forces. He died in 1917 shortly after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He lies buried in a French graveyard.
He was my grandfather’s brother — my great-uncle. Apart from that I know little about him.
Was he married? Did he have children? Do I have relatives somewhere in Alberta where he enlisted?
These things are lost to the past. But William himself isn’t. He smiles out of an old photograph coloured by someone somewhere along the line.
Just one more Ulster man among so many from this part of the world who gave their lives in that awful slaughter they call the Great War. Tomorrow at 11, we will remember them.