News And Events

NIAS introduces protocol to protect response to most seriously ill

As the demands on the Health Service relating to Covid19 are expected to increase over the coming weeks, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has implemented plans to ensure that we are best placed to respond to the most clinically urgent calls during that period.

From today, NIAS will implement a level of escalation which includes a specific Covid-19 protocol to categorise 999 calls. The protocol allows for more specific questioning of patients to assess the likelihood of Covid-19 symptoms so that crews can be pre-warned of the need to use appropriate PPE. The protocol will also enable improved diagnosis of the severity of Covid-19 symptoms, resulting in more specific advice being provided to patients.

As the demand on ambulance services increases this protocol also enables NIAS to ensure that ALL patients with immediately life-threatening and serious conditions, whether or not they are related to Covid-19, will be prioritised for the most immediate response.

Regrettably, it may be necessary to withhold an ambulance response to calls and deal with some calls through triage. These will be calls which have been assessed as less serious in nature and do not need an Ambulance Response. NIAS apologises to any patients who may find themselves in this situation but we would ask for your understanding in advance. These are exceptional circumstances requiring exceptional measures. NIAS will continue to monitor and review our response capacity and will react to any improvement in the situation without delay.

Until then, we would ask you to stay safe by following the measures identified to reduce the spread of the virus – stay home, keep socially distant and, regularly, wash your hands. We would particularly ask that the public consider the safety of our staff and reduce the risk of infection to them, and their families, by only calling 999 in real emergencies.


Air Ambulance NI HEMS team helping at The Frontline

Air Ambulance Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service have reached the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service with effect from 19.00 today, 3rd April.

The temporary suspension of the service has come about in order to free up key clinical staff to be redeployed to use their specific skills and expertise in critical care during the current public health emergency. The suspension of the service will be reviewed on an ongoing basis with all parties committed to recommencing the service immediately when the staff can be reallocated.

Michael Bloomfield, NIAS Chief Executive said:

“For the past 32 months the HEMS team has provided critical pre-hospital care at trauma incidents across Northern Ireland, saving lives, brains and limbs. From today, the HEMS service will be suspended. This has been a difficult decision to take however having the highly skilled members of this team at the frontline is crucial to support our community in the most appropriate way during the extraordinary challenges we are facing in managing the pandemic. I would like to thank every member of the team for the incredible work they do and look forward to seeing them return to that role as soon as possible.”

Ray Foran, Chairperson of Air Ambulance NI added;

“Please be assured that this is a temporary measure. We are actively working with our colleagues in NIAS to identify other ways in which we can support patient care as the pandemic develops and other ways in which our aircraft might be deployed in support of the national response.

The public have been a crucial part of the Air Ambulance NI journey providing vital funding to the charity to ensure daily operations are possible. We at AANI thank everyone for their support and ask you to continue with donations as the team do everything necessary to help out in this crisis. Please donate online at  

We want to take this opportunity to reinforce the government message to stay at home and stay safe during this crisis.”

Supporting the decision, Health Minister Robin Swann said:

“The decision to temporarily suspend HEMS was not taken lightly. It further illustrates the difficult choices that are having to be made. I sincerely thank the consultants and HEMS staff and paramedics for the ongoing support as they now prepare to undertake a further critical role in the fight against COVID-19.”


Restart a Heart 2019

RSAH 2018 LogoRestart a Heart Day on 16 October 2019 will be a global event.

Events will be taking place all over Northern Ireland during the week of 14– 20 October 2019, helping us to build a Community of Lifesavers!

Please follow the below link to our Information Pack:

Please use this form to tell us about the Restart a Heart activity you are planning. (click icon to the left)

Cardiac Arrest survivor meets with Paramedic who saved her life

People don’t actually get to choose where they suffer a cardiac arrest. But let’s say you could choose. Where would you pick? Would you think perhaps just outside a hospital with a paramedic only yards away.

That is exactly what happened to Newtownabbey woman, Rita Thomas.

On January 6th, Rita had experienced a bit of chest pain and took herself, the next day, to the Mater hospital in Belfast. Rita tells us she was checked over and that neither her bloods nor ECG showed up anything irregular.

She left the hospital and walked out onto the Crumlin Rd where she collapsed. Passers by ran to an ambulance parked at the ED and alerted Ardoyne Paramedic Gavin Coogan to what had happened. Gavin immediately went

to her aid, instructing others to get more help from the ED. CPR was started within seconds and then within minutes Rita was being cared for in the ED.

Things were looking very bleak and, later that evening, her husband, Raymond, was told to prepare himself for the worst.

But overnight Rita’s condition started to improve and the following day she opened her eyes to see only bright lights above her and ceiling panels.

She remembers her first thought was “What happened to me? Why am I here?”
It was all explained to her and she was told she would be transferred to RVH to have a stent inserted.

Rita is already back at work. She not only enjoys life but wakes up every day thankful that she is alive. She knows that everything went her way the day she arrested – outside a hospital and a paramedic on hand. She believes that Gavin was meant to be there on that day.

Today she had an emotional reunion with, an off duty, Gavin in Ardoyne Ambulance Station to thank him personally for what he had done. He, in his modest way, was quick to share the credit with the passer by who alerted him immediately and to the medical teams in the Mater. Between them all, on that day, they did what they were

called to do – save a life.

What about you? Would you know what to do if someone collapsed in front of you – a parent, a sibling, a friend or even a stranger? With early intervention, people can survive out of hospital cardiac arrest. Now is the time to learn CPR – not tomorrow or the day after, or next week or next month. It is now.

Join the drive for a #communityoflifesavers. You never know when you could be called upon to save a life.



Staff Recognition Awards Ceremony 2019

Congratulations to all winners at our Staff Recognition Awards Ceremony.

NIAS hosted its first ever Staff Recognition Awards Ceremony on Thursday 28 March at the salubrious Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick. Attended by 150 people and guests, the event was a roaring success as nominees joined with staff who were to receive their Long Service Medals for service of 20 years or more.

Thirty two staff received the Queen’s Long Service (Emergency Duties) and Good Conduct Medal and another six received their NIAS Long Service Medal. These staff have dedicated their lives to providing the highest standards of patient care to those who need our services. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, in his address praised their work and commitment to patient care. He assured them that their value and worth is recognised across the HSC family.

The Lord Lieutenant for Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie, was effusive in her praise for our crews and, as she made clear, she was doing so from the perspective of someone who has used our services.

The highlight of the night was without doubt the eagerly awaited Staff Recognition Awards Ceremony. Congratulations to each of the winners who were:


Ambulance Care Attendant of The Year (Paul Archer Award) – Diane Moody (Coleraine), receiving her award from retired NIAS Chair, Mr Paul Archer


Control Person of The Year – Adrian Steele (North Desk), receiving his award from Dr. Miriam Mc Carthy



Emergency Medical Technician of the Year – Craig Wilson (Altnagelvin), receiving his award from Dr. Michael Mc Bride, CMO



Paramedic of the Year – Caroline French (Community Paramedic, Castlederg), receiving her award from Hazel Winning, AHP Lead DOH


Support Person of the Year – Martin Mullan (North CSO), receiving his award from Nicole Lappin, NIAS Chair


Trainee of the Year – Melanie Brannen (Altnagelvin), receiving her award from Michael Bloomfield, NIAS C.Ex


Nominated by colleagues, they faced stiff competition in each of the categories as the standards were so high. All who had been nominated deserve praise as their actions have prompted someone, somewhere, to nominate them. To those who were shortlisted, you did exceptionally well and should be very proud of yourselves. But to the winners the spoils! You are the cream of the crop and thoroughly deserved the recognition you received last night.

Well done to everyone and we hope to see you all, and others, back next year.

The final presentation of the night was to Belfast EMT for an act of extreme kindness which her judging panel thought should not go unrecognised. The story was read out by Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield who presented Noreen with a bunch of flowers which was our way of saying how proud we are of you and how you typify everything that is good about humanity and we are lucky to have you in our ranks.



Noreen Owens receiving a bouquet of flowers, in appreciation, from NIAS C.Ex Michael Bloomfield

NIAS Bravery Award

NIAS staff are often looked upon as heroes by members of the public. Sometimes this does not sit easy with our frontline staff who see what they do as a privilege.

But there are times when they go “above and beyond the call of duty” and in order to preserve life they choose to set to one side their own personal safety to ensure that of another.

NIAS has now introduced an award which recognises such selflessness and bravery. The NIAS Bravery Award was awarded for the first time to a crew from the Northern Division, Paramedic Shauna Loughran and EMT Aona Mac Giolla Bhrighde.

Aona and Shauna were returning to their base when they noticed smoke billowing from a house in Moneymore. They stopped, contacted Control and then made their way to the house to lead an elderly occupant to safety before also warning neighbours of the danger. With everyone removed to safety, they turned to witness the smoke turn to flames as the fire caught hold.

Their actions, undoubtedly, saved lives and both Aona and Shauna were invited to a meeting of our Trust Board in Downpatrick, where NIAS Chair, Nicole Lappin, introduced them to the Board before presenting them with the NIAS Bravery Award.

The entire Service is extremely proud of both and they are worthy first recipients of this award.


Enniskillen Ambulance Station

Enniskillen Ambulance Station

Following the opening of a new ambulance station at Ballymena, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) have constructed a new ambulance station with associated staff facilities, training suite, garaging and car parking on the site of the old Erne Hospital in Enniskillen.

The total area of the site is 0.7 Hectares. The gross floor area of the office area is 438 m2. The garage and stores area is a further 900 m2.

The building is designed to reach BREEAM Excellent status and is anticipated to achieve a score of 70.5%. BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. This BREEAM rating has been achieved through the use of innovative features such as a biomass boiler, high quality insulation and LED lighting. BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and has become one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance. It encourages designers, clients and others to think about low carbon and low impact design, minimising the energy demands created by a building before considering energy efficiency and low carbon technologies.

Enniskillen Ambulance Station

A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks, to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction and use. The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. They include aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

The total project cost is estimated to be £4,574,000. The construction cost is expected to be £2,427,000.

The building is heated with a biomass boiler with an oil boiler providing backup heat only. This arrangement minimises the carbon footprint of the building. Thermal energy consumption is expected to be 544,440 kWhr per year.

Building electricity consumption is predicted to be 97,720 kWhr per annum.

The predicted water usage is 324 m3 /year.

The new building will provide considerably improved accommodation for NIAS crews and will help NIAS improve the standard of service offered to the Community in Enniskillen and surrounding areas. The new station extends and builds upon the NIAS identity created at the Ballymena station with the colour scheme reflecting the NIAS brand. It is anticipated that the colour scheme and associated design elements will continue to be used on future construction works. This will help put NIAS forward as an important civic entity and elevate its status among the wider public.