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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# helidoctors
There's a new flying doctor service on the way for the south of the country
The Irish Community Air Ambulance service is expected to go live from Cork Airport from next March.

pv 101116 airmed 2 MMACS John Kearney (far left) and team MMACS

MUNSTER IS SET to get a new air ambulance service from early next year.

The new helicopter medical support unit is to be established by the current Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) service, which itself has been existence since 2009.

At present, Ireland has one air ambulance, run by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) from its base in Athlone. This is supplemented by the five Coast Guard helicopters operating from their bases around the country.

As opposed to those two services however, ICRR is funded by the community.

Founding CEO John Kearney says the service, which he says will be akin to a “mobile intensive care unit” is hoping to raise €1 million in donor funding in order to have the air ambulance unit operational from March next year. The helicopter and team in question will be based at Cork Airport.

“We’ve a lot of work to do,” he told “€1 million in six months is a challenge. But we’ve a population base of one million, €2 euro per year from the majority of people would do it.”

Kearney says that at present “people are dying unnecessarily due to the time it takes to receive critical care”.

“There are currently five level 4 clinicians and over 100 GPs with the rapid response service who have saved countless lives and improved care in its seven years,” he said.

The launch of a community air ambulance service is the next step bringing better response times with permanent on-duty doctors who will have the ability to bring advanced skills to acutely ill and injured people throughout its catchment area.

Kearney says that the new service will “complement” the existing Athlone-based service and the Coast Guard.

The helicopter in question has not yet been purchased, although Kearney says it will be an EC 135, “in line with best practice in the UK”.

The eventual cost to run the service will be over €2 million a year. “But to go live in 2017 we’ll need a million, so that’s the initial aim,” says Kearney.

“Without question the need is there, there are unique geographical challenges to the Munster region” he says.

We’re going to take the volunteer part-time response model and take it to the next level.

Read: “It can be hard to cope” – Ireland wants parents of premature babies to get heavily involved in their care

Read: 45% of Irish prisoners released have reoffended within three years

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