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Over 40% of air ambulance missions completed at Galway Hospital last year

The Air Corps provides Emergency Aeromedical Support – a medical service for seriously ill patients – to the HSE.

An AW-139 helicopter at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Co. Dublin.
An AW-139 helicopter at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Co. Dublin.
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Images

OVER FORTY PERCENT of air ambulance missions in 2018 terminated at University Hospital Galway, according to newly released Department of Defence figures.

Of the 310 missions completed last year by the Irish Air Corps, 41% finished at the hospital while the majority of missions took place in rural communities. 

The Air Corps, which provides Emergency Aeromedical Support to the HSE, has completed more than 2,300 missions throughout the country since the service was first introduced in 2012.

Mayo and Galway saw the most missions in 2018 with 49 and 36 completed missions respectively. 

These counties, as well as Roscommon, Clare and Tipperary, accounted for over 50% of all missions last year. 

In 2018, the Air Corps also provided 44 inter-hospital air ambulance services in response to critical medical emergencies. 

Operating out of Custume Barracks in Athlone, the Air Corps’ AW 139 helicopter has a 365-day per year crew support. 

In addition to medical support, the Irish Air Corps also undertakes maritime patrols and emergency weather event support.

Last year, the Air Corps dropped approximately 900,000 litres of water to tackle wildfires such as gorse blazes. 

During 2018′s hot weather, the Defence Forces deployed the Air Corps to tackle blazes in six different counties. 

In these instances, Agusta Westland AW139 helicopters are deployed. Capable of dropping 1,200 litres of water, these helicopters can be equipped with a “Bambi Bucket” aerial firefighting system.

Reacting to the most recent figures, Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said that air crew deployment across the Irish border in 2018 was “a standout moment” and that “these were unprecedented operations from our perspective.”

“They are among many reasons why we are extremely proud of the work of the women and men of the Irish Air Corps.”

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