The Irish Air Corps carried out more than 300 Air Ambulance missions in 2018 with the more than half of those taking place in the west of Ireland.
An arm of the Irish Defence Forces, the primary role of the Air Corps is to provide military air defence as well as providing support to organisations like the HSE and government departments.
In the past year, some 310 dispatches from the Air Corp were required under the Emergency Aeromedical support (EAS) service, which has a particular responsibility to support seriously ill patients in rural communities.
The majority of missions took place in Western counties with 49 completed missions in Mayo, 36 in Galway, followed by 30 in Roscommon and 25 in Clare.
On the other end of the spectrum, there was just one mission each carried out in Kildare and Kilkenny, and no EAS missions at all in 2018 in Dublin.
Following the establishment of the EAS programme in 2012, the Air Corps has completed 2,300 missions throughout the country, headquartered in Baldonnel in Dublin and supported by a crew in Custume Barracks in Athlone.
In addition to the ambulance service provided, latest figures also show the Air Corps completed 197 civil power operations which offer assistance to An Garda Síochana’s bomb squad, prisoner escorts, cash escorts and search operations.
During the historic visit of Pope Francis in August as well as other state visits, some 2,861 personnel from the air bound branch of the Irish Defence Forces were drafted in.
In a particularly challenging year thanks to polarised extreme weather events, the Air Corps played a role in mitigating the impact of events including Storm Emma and the drought experienced through the summer months.
Some 900,000 litres of water were dropped via the ‘bambi bucket’ on areas affected by Gorse fires in counties Dublin, Wicklow, Limerick, Tipperary and Wexford.as well as parts of Armagh and Down.
Minister of State with responsibility for Defence, John Kehoe said the support provided in Northern Ireland was a standout moment for the force this year.
“These were unprecedented operations from our perspective and they are among many reasons why we are extremely proud of the work of the women and men of the Irish Air Corps.”
This year also marked 60 years of deployment on the United Nations Peacekeeping Service abroad with a ceremony to mark the occasion held at Dublin Castle, presided over by President Michael D. Higgins and attended by Mr Kehoe and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.