Joe Kidd from Broughshane was working away cutting on his mothers’ property when he had an accident with the saw resulting in a serious injury to his left hand.  His nephew Ben, there at the time looked down at Joe’s limb and the blood drained from his face.  Joe said, “I knew it was serious and feared I would lose my thumb and finger, rendering my hand almost useless.  The road crew arrived and were with me when the air ambulance team arrived. I needed to go to the Ulster Hospital for surgery and the helicopter meant we landed near to the hospital in less than 20 minutes, a drive that would have been easily an hour.  The air ambulance team were also able to provide additional pain relief as I was in agony.”

The damage caused by the saw was extreme, Joe had managed to almost severe his thumb and index finger.  At the Ulster Hospital, Joe was in surgery for over 4 hours, during which time the consultant and plastics team managed to save his thumb.  Use of the thumb is a crucial element of hand utilization.   A second surgery was needed to amputate his index finger, which unfortunately couldn’t be saved.

Joe said, “It was obviously a very serious injury and losing a finger took a lot of recovery, physio and adjustment.  But I have adjusted well and am grateful that my thumb was saved thanks to the combined efforts of the air ambulance team and surgeons and team at the Ulster Hospital.  I don’t have full mobility in the thumb and do suffer with hypersensitivity in the cold weather, but I was back to work in April of this year which was pretty good going according to the physios.  I have a physical job in plastering and joinery, so the thumb is crucial in performing coordinated hand movements for that.  I am back up to full speed and so glad as I have always worked.”

Joe wanted to give something back to the charity involved in the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, Air Ambulance NI.  “I organised three events in one day!  I’m involved in Raceview Football Club and organised for them to play a charity match against Carrick Rangers FC, as my nephew plays there. I also decided to take on a street collection and organised a disco for the evening with a raffle. It was a great day and I owe massive thanks to the volunteers, players, prize sponsors and attendees.  It was an amazing feeling to be able to hand over £5,327.45 to the charity.”

Kerry Anderson, Head of Fundraising at the charity said, “Joe has made a fantastic recovery and it was lovely to meet him along with his niece Rebecca and nephew Dylan at the airbase.  The aim of the HEMS is to save lives, brains and limbs; and it is fantastic that Joe has retained his thumb thanks to the chain of care he received after his accident.  We are very grateful that he and the community held the fundraising day, all of the funds raised will help the next patients who need the HEMS team.”

HEMS is provided by way of a partnership between the charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.  The service brings urgent medical assistance to anywhere in the province, operating seven days a week for 12 hours per day. The helicopter can get to anywhere in Northern Ireland in approximately twenty-five minutes. On average, the service is needed by two individuals in NI every day.  If you have been a patient of the service or know someone who has and would like to visit the airbase, please call the charity on 028 9262 2677.

Air Ambulance NI aspires to raise £2 million each year to maintain and sustain this service so public donations are crucial. Find out more by visiting or contact the charity on the above number or by emailing

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