Dr John Hinds ‘irreplaceable’ says fellow ‘Flying Doctor’ Fred MacSorley

Doctor John Hinds and Doctor Fred McSorley at the Tandragee 100 in 2013
Doctor John Hinds and Doctor Fred McSorley at the Tandragee 100 in 2013

Dr Fred MacSorley, one half of Irish road racing’s peerless double act with Dr John Hinds, says his colleague has left an irreplaceable void following his tragic death at the weekend.

Dr Hinds died on Saturday after succumbing to his injuries following a crash during practice at the Skerries 100 near Dublin on Friday.

The highly-regarded 35-year-old from Tandragee, known in racing circles simply as ‘Doc John’, was an innovator in trauma care who brought world-class skills to the roadside, unquestionably saving many lives throughout the 14 years that he worked alongside Dr MacSorley on a voluntary basis within the MCUI Medical Team at Irish road race meetings north and south.

Yesterday, Lurgan-based GP Dr MacSorley told the News Letter that Dr Hinds’ shock passing was a ‘huge, huge loss’.

“John had an extraordinary level of skill and he took those very unique and highly advanced skills he would use in critical care in hospital to the side of the road,” he said.

“He had the courage and foresight to do that and it was similar to what the HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) specialists do in London, who have their world-renowned trauma specialists.

“John was in touch with them and other medical experts around the world and he would bring that level of expertise over here to the roadside. He was world-class and a lot of people didn’t realise that. He was a very modest person and didn’t really shout about it,” he added.

“There are maybe only a couple of people in the country who did what he did, but none of them were prepared to do it at the side of a ditch, so Dr John was pretty unique.

“As I mentioned the HEMS service in London are developing those trauma skills and a lot of the knowledge used has come out of the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, where these poor lads were being blown to smithereens by IED (improvised explosive device) bombs.

“Some were surviving with appalling injuries and being rescued by rapid intervention teams. We have learned a lot from that war experience, about advances in stabilisation of airways and so forth and John picked up a lot of tips from the studies that he would have avidly read,” said Dr MacSorley.

“He always looked to find the best practice available and to bring it to our shores, so he was a very valuable guy to have on board.”

Dr Hinds, who was an intensive care consultant and anaesthetist a Craigavon Area Hospital, was held in the highest regard by the riders themselves, who gained reassurance that their lives would be in safe hands should the unthinkable happen.

“The riders were hugely fond of him and in John they had someone who they could relate to in a way that someone who doesn’t ride motorbikes can’t,” Dr MacSorley said.

“I’m an ordinary bike rider but John was on a much greater level and they could relate to that. Like all the members of the medical team, we have the interests of the riders at heart. People like Dr [David] McManus who has been there a long time are there because they enjoy working with motorcyclists and trying to improve the service.”

Dr MacSorley said his former colleague was ‘by far the most amazing’ person he had ever worked alongside and added that he will miss Dr Hinds ‘hugely’.

“He is a huge loss and I don’t think at this stage that he can be replaced. Hopefully, the teams north and south looking after the motorcycle meetings can continue to try and carry on the role he did but he is a huge, huge loss,” he said.

“I will miss working with him hugely. I worked very closely with John for about 14 years and he showed no sign at all of getting tired or thinking that he’d had enough. Of all the people that I’ve worked with John was by far the most amazing.

“He was starting to look into how to improve trauma care in Northern Ireland and was making people take notice. He was bringing world-class ideas and attitudes and he was very keen to coordinate our trauma service so that everybody would get the same standard of very high care.

“He was a highly, highly intelligent man.”

Dr Hinds is survived by his partner Janet Acheson, an obstetrician at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.