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Tuesday 20 March 2018

New base allows for 24-hour air ambulance

Edel O'Connell

A PRIVATE air ambulance company that was unable to take off from its base after dark is relocating to Dublin Airport today so it can provide a 24-hour service.

The father of the teenager at the centre of the recent botched liver-transplant flight welcomed the news that air ambulance company Aeromedevac would now provide the 24-hour service.

As revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent, Aeromedevac -- one of two private operators recently tasked by Crumlin Hospital to airlift transplant patients to London when state aircraft are unavailable -- could only take off from its base at Weston Airport in Leixlip, Co Kildare, during daylight.

The air ambulance company recently arranged with Crumlin to provide back-up support in the aftermath of the failed transportation of seriously ill teenager Meadhbh McGivern (14), from Co Leitrim.

Meadhbh, from Ballinamore, who is the longest-waiting paediatric patient on the liver transplant list in this country -- missed out on a transplant in July when authorities failed to organise transportation in time.

However, the Irish Independent revealed on Wednesday that if an emergency call to transport a patient was made to back-up service Aeromedevac at night, the company would not have been able to respond.

Meadhbh's father Joe McGivern described the move as "good news" and said it was a step toward what he hoped would be "bigger and better things to come".

"I know I can speak for all the other families around the country when I say what a relief it is that there will now be at least one 24-hour private air ambulance service in place operating out of Dublin," he said.

"It is comforting to have a fixed-wing service available on a 24-hour basis."

In a statement, the company said: "Aeromedevac Ireland's current operational base at Weston is suitable for medical repatriations from abroad which normally offer one to two days' notice to arrange the repatriation flight.


"Given Aeromedevac Ireland may be called upon to operate on a 24-hour basis, the move to Dublin Airport facilitates this activity."

The company said it did not anticipate any price increase to clients as a result of this move.

Meanwhile, the HSE said that, in addition to Aeromedevac, Crumlin Hospital also had an agreement with an air travel broker to provide 24-hour transport options in the event that state air transport was not available.

"The service level agreement with this broker gives the hospital access to a wide range of private air transfer providers, which offer the capability to transfer patients 24 hours a day, to all parts of the country, should a state asset be unavailable.

"The full range of providers that are in place offer comprehensive options to cater for patients' transfer needs."

Irish Independent

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