Northern Ireland's first children's ambulance is four-year-old's 'battleship'

Families of young people with heart conditions say they feel relieved and emotional that Northern Ireland's first children's ambulance is ready for the road.

The bespoke ambulance is equipped with LED lights, toys and games in a sensory space designed to make children as comfortable as possible.

Four-year-old Fionn McInerney, who has a congenital heart condition, was one of the first children to see inside the ambulance. 

He was excited by its space theme and described it as his "battle-ship".

His mum Edel said the family are familiar with blue light journeys and that this ambulance is a "massive step up".

She says: "As a parent I see everything hidden under the table here.  I know all the life-saving equipment is here.  I know Fionn is going to be safe when he gets to travel in it but I know all the distractions are here too."

Two hundred children are born with congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland each year.  Often they are used to frequent trips to Dublin in an ambulance to receive specialist treatment and surgery. Now they can avail of this special ambulance.

Christine McCaughey's teenage son Blake has a complex congenital heart disease: "This is going to be a breath of fresh air. No-one wants to be in the back of an ambulance but unfortunately with children like Blake, those days come."

The ambulance cost just over £120,000, with most of the funds raised by the Children's Heartbeat Trust.

The NI Ambulance Service will be responsible for funding the upkeep of the vehicle.

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