Thursday 19 September 2019

Ready for take-off: First charity air ambulance is in service

Up in the air: Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Junior Mental Health Minister Jim Daly with John Kearney, founder and volunteer, and John Murray with the charity air ambulance at Rathcoole Aerodrome. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Up in the air: Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Junior Mental Health Minister Jim Daly with John Kearney, founder and volunteer, and John Murray with the charity air ambulance at Rathcoole Aerodrome. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Ralph Riegel

Ireland's first charity air ambulance will save hundreds of lives by slashing transfer times to hospitals for acute care.

The vow came as it emerged the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) has responded to an average of two calls a day over its first 30 days in service.

The Cork-based service will respond to 500 calls per year and bring a rural population of 10,000 square miles south of Galway and Dublin to within 20 minutes of critical medical attention.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney launched HEMS, which was inspired over a decade ago by Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) founder John Kearney, who was deeply moved by the death of a friend's daughter.

The critically ill six-year-old girl had turned to her mother and said: "I don't want to die." Tragically, doctors were unable to save her.

Now, the HEMS service aims to ensure patients get to hospital in a matter of minutes.

"Today is the fulfilment of a dream for so many of us," Mr Kearney said. Some €2m annually must be raised to maintain the service.

Irish Independent

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