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Air ambulance can't land at €150m hospital

THE new air ambulance cannot land at a newly constructed €150m hospital as the helipad in use there is not deemed suitable.

The issue came to light after ambulance pilots had to land at a nearby business park before transporting the patient to the hospital via road.

The Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore cost €150m under the National Development Plan and was opened just five years ago.

However, the problems regarding the air ambulance service at the hospital only came to light in recent weeks following a motorcycle accident.

A 19-year-old man was seriously injured following the incident in the village of Doon.

Paramedics and the Ferbane fire service were called to the scene but due to the remote location and rough terrain, it was decided to alert the new air ambulance service, based at Custume Barracks in Athlone.

The teen was airlifted for transferral to Tullamore. However, the air ambulance went to the nearby Burlington Business Park to land.

When it arrived there, the injured teen, whose injuries were not thought to be life threatening, was transferred to another ambulance to be driven to the hospital.

It has now emerged that a new helipad was not put in place at the new hospital, and the old one, which dates from around the 1960s, is still used.

Fine Gael Councillor Tommy McKeigue said that: "A helipad that is suitable for modern helicopters should have been put in place.

"There was enough land around the back of the hospital that could have been used.

"It would have been small money in the overall context of what was spent," he said.

He is now going to raise the issue at the Dublin South Leinster regional health forum.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defence told the Herald: "Whilst the Air Corps have used the helipad in Tullamore Hospital in the past for training and air ambulance operations, for some time now, it has not been considered suitable for Air Corps operations.

"A designated landing site close to the hospital has been identified and is now used as required."

The HSE said: "There are a number of appropriate landing sites in close proximity for use when necessary."