Farmer ‘lucky to be alive’ thanks to Air Ambulance

A SION Mills man who is ‘lucky to be alive’ after a serious farming accident has encouraged people to support the life-saving Air Ambulance service.

On April 17, 2019, David Thompson from Sion Mills was working on his family farm and was up a ladder around 14 feet when he fell to the ground.

During the fall, David hit a crate at the side of the bales, banging his head on the way down.


Whilst the crate had broken the impact of the fall, it resulted in an extensive head injury, and he spent five weeks in hospital.

Speaking about his accident David said, “It was a foggy start to the morning. I was helping my son with a new farm project and the pressure was on with lots do at that time of year.

“I was in the barn alone, up a ladder cutting the strings on large straw bales. I stretched to cut the last of them and the bale sprung open, pushed the ladder and catapulted me from it, 14 feet to the ground.

“I have no memory of what occurred next but family and those at scene have pieced it together.

David continued, “I apparently phoned my son David who immediately knew something was wrong; he called a contractor on the farm site, Phillip.

“I was still conscious when Phillip came into the barn and soon after the 999 call was made. Phillip told me not to move despite my appeal for help to get up.

“The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service road crew arrived on scene and determined that the Air Ambulance Team was needed.”

The fog meant that the flight to reach David was not as direct as it usually would be, it was necessary for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) team to detour and fly at a higher altitude than usual for visibility.

Once they had safely landed, the HEMS team consisting of Paramedic Jason Rosborough and Doctor Russell McLaughlin worked with paramedics, to carry out critical care interventions. Due to the severity of his injuries and concern about potential rupture of David’s spleen, he was put into a medically induced coma by the Air Ambulance team, and transferred to Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

David spent five weeks in hospital – three in the Royal Victoria Hospital and a further two in Musgrave Park Hospital.

His recovery is continuing, with the head injury being the biggest factor, but his family are so pleased he is alive and has made remarkable progress.

The Thompson family have since visited the Air Ambulance base and were reunited with Doctor Russell McLaughlin, one of the team who treated David at scene.
David continued, “Without the Air Ambulance NI I would not be here today. All the consultants have told me that it is a miracle I’m alive.

“It is so important to support this charity to ensure it continues providing critical care. I had hoped to organise a fundraising event for Air Ambulance this year to help with the daily funding need of £5,500 but given the health pandemic that is unfortunately on hold.

“So, my appeal to the farming community as well as staying safe is to continue to support the Air Ambulance by donating what you can.”

• Air Ambulance Northern Ireland is the charity that provides the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for the region, and it costs £2m each year in fundraising to keep the service operational. To donate to the charity, visit

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 4 Castle Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AB