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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 21 January 2021

Ireland's first community air ambulance to be airborne within weeks as HSE gives go ahead

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

Image: Don MacMonagle

IRELAND’S FIRST COMMUNITY air ambulance will be in operation within weeks after the HSE gave it the go-ahead by signing a service level agreement. 

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 Munster based it will be available for missions nationwide and coordinate with the existing Athlone based Emergency Aeromedical Service.

Following today’s announcement, ICRR Director John Kearney urged the Department to now follow this with a definite commencement date.

“I warmly welcome that this project finally has approval to get airborne. The sooner this vital service is live, the sooner a life will be saved and grief will be spared,” Kearney said. 

Examples of incidents which the Air Ambulance is expected to respond to include:

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

Welcoming the news, Minister Harris said “I am delighted that a new aeromedical service in the South will commence shortly.

I would like to thank the HSE National Ambulance Service and Irish Community Rapid Response for its commitment in developing this Service Level Agreement and ensuring the necessary clinical and corporate governance arrangements are such that the new service will be safe, robust and sustainable.

“The service will see the establishment of a charitably funded Helicopter Emergency Medical Service in the South, which will operate from Rathcoole Aerodrome, just northeast of Millstreet, County Cork.

“The service will complement the existing aeromedical services and improve aeromedical access to the South of Ireland.”

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