News And Events

NIAS Frontline Strengthened

As we start a new month, it is probably a good time to congratulate and welcome some staff who have successfully completed their courses in the past 5 weeks.

The top picture shows ACA recruits with Trainer, Glenn O’Rorke.

Back L-R: Peter McCormack, Anthony Curran, Hannah McKay, Patrick Adams
Front L-R: David Sanderson, David Cairns, Julie Devlin, Bronagh Kelly.

They will have started to fill the gaps created by some of those on the EMT course who had previously worked as ACA’s.

Below are the magnificent seven who completed that course at the end of July with Trainers, Tommy Sinnerton and Micky Hughes.

Back L-R: Cormac McIvor, Allistar Collins, Proinsias Dornan, David Hewitt, Robert Taggart
Front L-R: Martin McGarry and David McLarnon


Foyle Pride 2016

NIAS Staff at Belfast Pride 2016For the past few years members of our equality team have been urging me to attend Belfast Pride in support of our LGBT colleagues. Every year I always had a reason/excuse that I was too busy on that day.

Earlier this year I watched a film about the campaign for Equal Marriage in ROI. As I watched I became more aware than ever of the rights of LGBT people in our community. So moved was I that I decided right there and then that I would make sure that I attended the event this year to show my support for LGBT colleagues.

As the day passed I never gave a thought as to how much the presence of non-LGBT colleagues would mean to those who are LGBT. But then as arrangements were being progressed for Derry Pride this weekend, the following was sent in. When you read this, I hope you stop for a while and consider if you can attend this weekend – your support, through your presence, could mean so much to someone who may be struggling and who needs to know that they are not alone. This is what was sent in for inclusion in promotion of the day.


The I that I am, untold, unseen, hidden fearful of society’s spite.
Closeted, closed, clothed in that which I am not, society accepts.
Disillusioned, despairing that the hidden I be recognised,
shown only in the darkness of anonymity, the I that is seen is not me.
With myself, I watch our years slip by and with them, what might be.

Calling, crying, shouting to the world when I know it cannot hear,
The nature if the I that I am, pleading acceptance.
Ten years have gone by since I have written this and I write it now.
In ten years time I will write this and think of ten years time.


“I knew the guy who wrote this, I did not like him very much.

A very sad person who contemplated suicide. I know this because that person was me.

That is why Pride is very important to me and should be for all of us irrespective of our sexual orientation. It gives hope of acceptance to the fearful, closeted teenager and adult, hope to the bullied and battered by homophobes. It reaches out to those that fear being hanged in Iran and Saudi Arabia, to those who are beaten half to death then burned alive in Africa. Pride cries for those who are bound hand and foot, thrown of buildings then stoned to death.

Pride, as at stonewall, cries out “No more” and celebrates life.
Equal rights are Human rights and common to all Humanity so all of us have a responsibility to our humanity to ensure that Human Rights apply to all.
Many people have LGBT friends and relatives – children, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and parents. Pride is a wonderful chance to show solidarity with them.

Finally Pride celebrates inclusiveness and diversity and I am very proud that so many of my straight NIAS colleagues marched at Belfast Pride and we need our straight allies at Foyle and Newry Prides.”

Man & 2 Children Struck by Lightning

lightning-199651_1280The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is urging caution following an incident today when a man and two young children were struck by lightning in Lisburn.

NIAS was called to the scene, just before 2 pm today, following reports that an adult male had been struck by a bolt of lightning. A Rapid Response Paramedic was on scene in 7 minutes to find that two children had also been struck. Three A&E crews and a further 2 RRV Paramedics were sent to the scene.

The adult was taken to the nearby Lagan Valley Hospital and the two children were taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. All three are being treated for the injuries sustained and they remain in our thoughts.

As more thundery showers are forecast with the possibility of lightning we would ask people to remain very vigilant when they are out and about. If
there is a high chance of thunder storms – lightning safety advice would suggest that you stay indoors but if you are outside you should avoid open fields and hilltops. You should also stay away from tall, isolated trees. If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current travelling between group members. You should also stay away from water and wet items as well as metal objects, which are all excellent conductors of electricity.

Please – just stay safe!

Finnish Delegation Visit NIAS

NIAS hosted a delegation of Health and Social Care representatives from Finland this morning.

IMG_0518The group are on the final day of their visit, undertaken to find out a bit more about how Health and Social Care is implemented here with a view to introducing their own model.

Our visitors were met by Dr David McManus, John Wright, Michelle Lemon, Ciaran McKenna and Frank Rafferty.

Following a short presentation outlining the role of NIAS and how we fit into the HSC system, with a particular eIMG_0527mphasis on the recent introduction of new alternative care pathways, the party were shown into our control room and also met with frontline staff, John Fox, Brian McKee and Andy Moore.

Before leaving, the group were presented with a memento of their visit and thanked us for our hospitality.

“Get stuck in!” – Paramedic advice to the public

Wendy CunninghamCardiac Arrest survivor, Nurse Wendy Cunningham, visited ambulance service headquarters in November to meet the staff who helped saved her life following her arrest in Templemore Swimming pool in Belfast.

Describing them as her “heroes”, Wendy wanted to personally say thanks for everything they did that night. Sean Martin was the Rapid Response Paramedic who arrived at the scene to find CPR being performed by one of Wendy’s friends and a pool attendant who, in a very fortuitous coincidence, had actually been taught CPR by Wendy herself.

While they continued CPR, Sean placed the pads on Wendy to discover she was in the shockable rhythm of VF. After one shock, a pulse returned but Wendy was not yet out of the woods as she had not yet started breathing again. The A&E crew, Alison McKinley and Eugene Jordan had arrived to assist just as Wendy’s pulse disappeared again and she needed another shock to restore it.

Wendy was then transferred to the ambulance and brought to the RVH where a team was waiting for her. She spent some time in the hospital and has since returned to a fully active life.

Sean Martin, RRV Paramedic, believes that the key to Wendy’s survival was the early CPR that was given by Wendy’s friends. He would encourage everyone to learn how to do CPR to keep the blood flowing to the brain while the Paramedics make their way to the scene. His message, to anyone who might be a bit hesitant about doing chest compressions, is very simple “Get stuck in – do the chest compressions and you might save a life!”

Watch Wendy’s meeting with her heroes.

“I thought he was going to kill me!” – Paramedic’s account of an assault on her by a patient.

Heather SharpeIn 2012, Rapid Response Paramedic, Heather Sharpe, received details of an emergency call in Newtownabbey. Everything about the call was routine until the moment she arrived at the house. There, her “patient” took it upon himself to physically assault the very person who had, on trust, come into his house to help him in his hour of need.

In the course of the assault, he ripped Heathers uniform and attempted to remove, from her, the only means of communication which she had with ambulance control – her radio and mic. In recalling the incident, Heather recounts how she was fearful for her life and really believed that he was going to kill her. As she tried to get away he wrestled with her from the top to the bottom of the stairs. When she got to the bottom she saw the chance to make her escape through the front door and she took it.

Once outside, she fixed her clothing as best she could, given that it had been ripped. But then she realised that in the house was the wife of the man who had just assaulted her. She began to fear for that lady’s safety and, unbelievably, went back in to see if she could get her out. When asked what would make a Paramedic do that, knowing the possible dangers that lay inside, her answer was simple – “It’s what makes a Paramedic” was all she said.

Help arrived in the form of another ambulance crew and the patient was taken to hospital. Heather was left trying, somehow, to make sense of what had just happened. She stood in that space between the house and her car, looking at each in turn, wondering how she had come to be in this position. Her ambulance shirt was ripped, so she put her coat on, to preserve a degree of modesty, lifted her Paramedic bag and got into her car to drive to the nearest ambulance station. There she was safe among her friends – safe enough to allow her to let her emotions out and she cried!

This is an account of one of approximately 250 assaults per year on ambulance staff. Heather, very bravely, has put her account of this story on film.

Our Christmas Giving Tree

Elizabeth Reid, Lorraine Welsh, Richard McCormack, Orla O’Neill, Chris Quinn and Roisin Smyth are preparing the presents for shipping out

Staff in HQ and Control have responded magnificently to our Christmas Giving Tree appeal.

The tree in the reception area had a number of stars placed on it with details of a young person who might otherwise not have been receiving a present at this time of the year and staff were invited to take a star and replace it with present. It was absolutely amazing how quickly the stars were removed from the tree and how presents started to appear in their place.

This small gesture from all those who took part just shows that at this time of the year people are aware of how fortunate they are themselves and how grateful they are to be given the opportunity to help those in need. I hope that everyone who left a gift will take the time on Christmas Day to think that some child, somewhere has a big smile on their face because Santa didn’t forget them. You probably think it was nothing, but it will mean so much to the children and also to their parents.

Well done and thank you to you all!

Happy Christmas. 

Choose Well this Festive Season


The Christmas Party season is now in full swing and we are already extremely busy. Please remember to Choose Well and call us only in an emergency.

Have fun but stay safe. If you are driving – don’t drink. If you are drinking – don’t drive.

We are anticipating a very busy time and we will get to you as soon as we can – BUT REMEMBER, there may be people who have a more urgent need than you. So please be patient.

Respect those who take your call in our control centre and respect those of our staff who are coming to help you.

Alanna Casement Says Thanks to Lifesaving Paramedics

Alanna Casement meets lifesaving Paramedics Brian Lynn and Mark QuigleySeptember has arrived and kids are now back at school. It must be particularly hard for those who are moving from the familiarity of their primary school into the strange land of post-primary.

This time last year, one young girl should have been starting Assumption College in Ballynahinch, but due to a serious incident during the summer holidays this was all put on hold.

Alanna Casement fell off her bike and punctured a femoral artery starting a race against time to get her to hospital. Neighbours, ambulance and police all pulled together to save the life of this 11 year old.

In July this year, Alanna met with everyone involved to say thanks and this is what she had to say about everything when she met Paramedics Brian Lynn and Mark Quigley:

Ambulances Involved in 2 Separate RTC’s While on 999 Calls

20150819_102024Ambulances have been involved in two separate Road Traffic Collisions this morning while dealing with emergency calls.

The first incident happened on the Shore Road at Whiteabbey at approximately 8:30 while the crew was responding to a non-life-threatening emergency call in Carrickfergus. The ambulance was driving on the main road when a vehicle emerged from a side road.

No-one was seriously hurt in the incident although the occupant of the car has been brought to RVH for treatment. The crew were shaken by the incident and have been given a period of downtime.

Later, at approximately 8:50 a second ambulance was en route to hospital, from Portrush, with a patient following another non-life-threatening emergency when a vehicle emerged from the side road and clipped the rear end of the ambulance 20150819_102526sending it into a spin before ending up on its side. The patient and crew are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Causeway hospital.

NIAS would repeat its calls for drivers to exercise extreme caution on the roads at all times.