On Sunday 26th September 2021, Johnny Wigham, a self-employed lorry driver from Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone was doing some work on his family farm. Johnny was driving a Manitou around midday when the vehicle toppled over in the yard causing his body to hurtle around the inside of the forklift.

Johnny’s sister and her husband saw the incident occurring from their house across the field and ran over to assist him, while his wife Donna phoned the emergency services. Johnny managed to free himself from the vehicle, but he was badly hurt.

Due to Johnny’s injuries, crews from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) were all dispatched to the scene. The air ambulance was able to land beside the farm and the HEMS consultant doctor and paramedic began working with their NIAS colleagues to treat Johnny at the scene. When Johnny was in a stable condition, they transported him to Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast in a journey time of around 20 minutes.

Johnny was suffering from 4 broken bones in his lumbar spine but has made a strong recovery. Just six weeks after his accident, Johnny, his wife Donna and their two sons visited the Air Ambulance NI base where they met members of the charity and HEMS team.

Johnny’s wife Donna said, “All of the emergency services who attended were fantastic. The airdesk paramedic spoke to me on the phone with such ease and compassion and from the moment the Air Ambulance landed the care provided was second to none. The doctor and paramedic immediately went about their job and calmed the whole situation down. They knew instantly upon examination that something wasn’t right and swiftly decided that airlifting Johnny to Royal Victoria Hospital was the best option.”

“It’s a service that none of us wish to require but when it is needed it is undoubtedly the quickest and most efficient. Without the intervention of the Air Ambulance NI team, the road to recovery would be an even more long winded one than we are on but due to the immense knowledge and professionalism, Jonny is well on the road to recovery.”

After witnessing the care provided to Johnny at scene that day, Donna signed up to become a Club AANI member. The unique membership allows supporters to donate a small amount to the charity each month to keep the helicopter flying to people like Johnny when they need emergency pre-hospital care.

Damien McAnespie, Area Fundraising Manager said: “Patients are at the centre of everything we do, and it is always a pleasure to welcome those who contact us, to the base. It was fantastic to meet Johnny and his family and wonderful to see Johnny recovering well so soon after his incident. We’re also delighted that Donna has joined Club AANI, it’s one of the simplest ways to support our charity and helps us predict regular income. We have approximately 1500 members, all who receive a car sticker and gold pin badge. We keep in touch with our members through a monthly email and annual summer get together. Most members donate monthly, and some prefer an annual subscription. However, our members choose to donate, they all help the medical crew to save lives, brains and limbs.”

We cherish connecting with former patients and patient families. If you, or one of your family members, have been treated by the HEMS crew please get in touch with Air Ambulance NI by calling 028 9262 2677.

You can find out more about Club AANI by clicking here.

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