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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019

Ireland's first charity-funded community air ambulance lands in Kerry

The service will cost €2 million to run annually.

ICRR CEO John Kearney (left) with pilot Captain John Murray
ICRR CEO John Kearney (left) with pilot Captain John Murray
Image: Don MacMonagle/

IRELAND’S FIRST COMMUNITY air ambulance, funded by a charity, has arrived in Kerry Airport this afternoon. 

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) will begin a full-time daylight hours service next month. Today, it flew in from Wales to Kerry Airport. 

The service is being run by the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), a charity dedicated to pre-hospital care, in co-operation with the HSE National Ambulance Service. 

The service will cost €2 million to run annually and is to be funded through community and donor contributions. 

The air ambulance is expected to respond to up to 500 calls per year, and bring the population of a 10,000 square mile area within 20 minutes of critical medical care. 

It will be tasked through the National Ambulance Service 999/112 call system. 

While the helicopter will be based in Cork, it will be available for missions nationwide. 

Examples of incidents which the air ambulance is expected to respond to include:

  • The airlift of a seriously ill patient from remote and rural medical hubs or accident scenes to specialist hospital care. 
  • Injuries sustained in road traffic accidents, equestrian, agricultural, industrial and sporting incidents, falls and impact injuries. 
  • Cardiac medical events, strokes, anaphylaxis, etc.

ICRR CEO John Kearney said lives will be saved and families’ grief spared, as he called for strong public support in order to maintain and develop the service. 

“Since 2008, ICRR has developed a network of over 200 land-based volunteer doctors throughout Ireland who deliver critical medical interventions which prevent serious injury or death,” Kearney said. 

He added that ICRR currently has 10 Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs) in operation. 

“We are now taking to the air and will mirror successful international models. The air service will include medical crew on board and rapid transport to a critical care facility.”

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