I never, in a million years, thought I would have to write this.
As we all know now, Dr. John Hinds, part of the MCUI Medical team, died as a result of a crash at Skerries last weekend.
In a sport where the term ‘legend’ can be defined by the fact that you are recognised by your first name, we have Joey, Robert, William, Michael and, in the same breath, Dr John.
Dr John, whose day job was an anaesthetist in Craigavon Hospital, was recognised at one of the best trauma doctors in the world.
Just a couple of weeks ago I saw him work with Ian Morrell after his crash at Kells.
When he arrived at the scene he asked me how many riders were down. I said ‘Just one. Ian Morrell’. I told him what I had seen. He simply said ‘Good man. Thanks.’
He worked for almost 45 minutes before transferring Ian to a helicopter. Ian is alive now because of that.
What John Hinds did for bike racing can never be overstated.
A few years ago I undertook a solo run round Ireland on my bike to help the MCUI Medical Team.
I was in touch with both Dr Fred McSorley and Dr John a number of times before it and he called me the morning I left to wish me all the best. The call was at 6.00am. He never stopped.
When I crashed myself at Bishopscourt a couple of years ago, I had an ankle and some ribs broken. Just seeing Dr John put me at ease. I knew how good he was.
There are literally dozens of riders who are alive today because of his intervention. He helped to pioneer treatment on scene, and this is, as we know now, often the difference in a fatality or a recovery.
What John Hinds and the rest of the Medical Team have done for bike racing is impossible to quantify.
Doc John was, more recently, growing concerned that Northern Ireland had no medical helicopter service and indeed he had already began to campaign for one to be established, after the time it took to bring one from Sligo to the North West circuit this year. He had already had meetings with various government officials about this.
John, who was just 35 and wasn’t married, had a longtime partner in Janet, who works at Daisy Hill hospital.
I can’t even begin to understand what his family are going through now. I am totally gutted by the news that John had passed away.
I’m sorry, but the ‘died doing what he loved’ notion isn’t enough. Dr John had so much more to give and I have no doubt would have gone on to be a world teacher.
John’s mentor, Dr Fred McSorley had to come out retirement at the weekend to stand in for John.
We can only imagine how hard that must have been for him, but we are thankful that he did.
To Dr John’s family and Dr Fred, Caroline and the rest of the Medical team, I’m so sad, but hoping you can find the strength it takes to carry on in his name.