Tuesday 17 September 2019

Air ambulance remains grounded

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Pat Flynn

Ireland's first charity-funded community air ambulance remains ready to go pending a formal announcement from the Minister for Health.

However, Minister Simon Harris has yet to receive approval for the service from the HSE's National Ambulance Service (NAS).

The charity behind the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) air ambulance service has urged the announcement of a formal start date for the service confirming that, in the meantime, the charity is incurring staff payroll costs while waiting for the service to go live.

ICRR is already delivering professional pre-hospital care directly to the site of emergencies throughout Ireland.

The charity's Augusta 109E helicopter is based at Rathcoole Aerodrome near Millstreet, Co Cork, and has visited dozens of locations across the country meeting members of the statutory and voluntary emergency services.

The service has also acquired a fire truck to meet fire safety requirements at the aerodrome.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to exploring the feasibility of the expansion of air ambulance services, including the possibility of a second base.

"In that context, the Minister for Health met with ICRR in 2017 to discuss its proposal to establish a charitably funded helicopter emergency medical service in the south. At that meeting it was agreed the ICRR would work with the (NAS) with a view to reverting to the Minister for Health with an agreed proposal."

Sunday Independent

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