First charity air ambulance touches down to enter full-time service
The aircraft is expected to deal with up to 500 calls per year.
Ireland’s first charity air ambulance has touched down at Kerry Airport.
The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service will enter full-time daylight hours service next month, after its maiden flight on Friday from Wales to Kerry.
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.
The service will cost two million euro to run annually, and is to be funded through community and donor contributions.
The helicopter fuel costs 350 euro per hour, or roughly five euro per minute.
Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) – a charity dedicated to pre-hospital care – is running the service in co-operation with the HSE National Ambulance Service.
It will be tasked through the National Ambulance Service 999/112 call system and is supported by the HSE and Department of Health.
The helicopter will be based in Cork, but will be available for missions nationwide and will co-ordinate with the existing Athlone-based Emergency Aeromedical Service.
During the next month, the new air ambulance will be touring the communities it will serve to help raise awareness and support fundraising.
ICRR chief executive John Kearney said lives will be saved and families will be spared grief thanks to the service, and he called for strong public support in order to maintain and develop it.
He said: “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. We have 10 Rapid Response Vehicles successfully 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.
“For the next month we will be spreading the word about ICRR’s Fuel For Life Campaign and would greatly appreciate all the support we can get.”
Incidents which the air ambulance is expected to respond to include the airlift of seriously ill patients from remote and rural medical hubs or accident scenes to specialist hospital care, and injuries sustained in road traffic accidents, agricultural, industrial, falls and impact injuries.
Concerns about air ambulances have already been aired in Northern Ireland.
Flying doctors from around the world wrote to Northern Ireland’s then health minister Michelle O’Neill to express concern about her plans for an air ambulance in 2016 after it emerged there would not be a doctor on board when it was launched.