New flying doctors service prepares for summer take-off
A new flying doctors service that will be up and running this summer promises to reach emergencies within 30 minutes.
The Irish Community Air Ambulance (ICAA) will be Ireland's first dedicated helicopter emergency medical service, manned by volunteer doctors working within their communities.
It has grown out of Rapid Response, a network of emergency response units that now has 137 volunteer doctors from Donegal to Kerry.
The helicopter - a Eurocopter EC 135, light, twin-engined machine with a 10-metre rotor disc - is small enough to get into the tightest of spaces.
It promises to reach anywhere within its catchment area, which covers all of Munster and south Leinster, within 30 minutes from its base at Cork Airport.
John Kearney, of ICCA, was one of the founders of Rapid Response in west Cork, following the death of the six-year-old daughter of a close friend of his, who died in transit to hospital in a medical emergency.
He said the organisation was set up in 2008 in the hope of saving one life.
It now deals with two casualties every month and works under the 999 emergency system.
The air ambulance is on tour this week, raising awareness about the service.