In May 2023, Thomas McPeake, a keen motorcross biker from Ballymena found himself in a life-threatening situation during a routine motorcross practice session. Thomas had been out on his bike practicing at a nearby centre as he when he found himself in need of the Air Ambulance. While honing his skills, Thomas came off the bike and suffered a severe accident that left him with multiple critical injuries and needing emergency life-saving care. Thomas credits his survival to the swift response and exceptional care provided by Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Team on board the air ambulance, whose timely intervention and transportation to Royal Victoria Hospital were instrumental in saving his life.

Reflecting on the accident, Thomas said, “I had a bad motorcross accident in May 2023, with lot of damage, broke my neck in 4 places, suffered a brain injury, damage to my liver and bowel and was in a coma for 36 days. I don’t remember anything from the accident, but I think the team put me into an induced coma to save my life. If it weren’t for air ambulance that day, with their speedy response and transporting me to RVH, I don’t think I would be here still today. I am still in recovery, which is going well, nearly feel back to myself again and I am back at work but still have a long way to go. I just want to say a massive thank you to air ambulance and the team for everything they have done”.

Motivated by gratitude and determination, Thomas undertook a remarkable feat in January 2024, less than a year after his life-altering accident, completing a 12 mile walk around Banagher Glen, Dungiven, and was warmly welcomed to the airbase to meet the team and celebrate his achievements.

Katrina Hughes, Area Fundraising Manager with the charity said, “Air Ambulance provides a service we all hope never to need but that is utilized on average twice per day.  Thomas’ injuries meant he needed emergency pre-hospital care right there in the moment to give him the chance of survival and recovery.  Recovering from such a traumatic event has required a lot of strength, resilience, and support from both medical professionals and loved ones. We wish Thomas continued progress in his recovery and thank him for his support in taking on a challenge and fundraising.

It may be surprising that the HEMS has been called out on over 4,000 incidents since the service started in 2017.  Every flight to a critically injured patient is only possible with support from the public.

We hope Thomas’ experience inspires the community to support the charity. We have lots of challenges on offer including walks, runs, abseils and skydives!  Or if you’d rather, simply set up a direct debit to the charity as a regular donor. All support powers the aircraft to the next patient, which could be any one of us.”

The charity Air Ambulance NI needs to raise £2.5m per annum or £6,850 per day, to sustain and develop the service.  One upcoming event in the area is an abseil at Roe Valley on 22 June in the country park to abseil the grand O’Cahans rock surrounded by scenic woodland and spectacular riverside views. For more information go to

The HEMS  is provided by way of a partnership between charity Air Ambulance NI and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, bringing urgent medical assistance to anywhere in the province, operating seven days a week for 12 hours per day. The HEMS team attend patients who are seriously ill or injured, bringing emergency pre-hospital care direct to the casualty with the aim of saving lives, brains and limbs.  The aircraft can reach anywhere in Northern Ireland in approximately twenty-five minutes.

On average the medical team are called upon twice every day, whether that is as a result of a serious road traffic collision, farm or workplace accident, sport and leisure incident or a serious medical emergency.

Any patients or families of the HEMS are welcome to visit the airbase and should get in touch with Air Ambulance NI by calling 028 9262 2677 or emailing  Find out more by visiting

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