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Hero pilots airlift sick patients to hospital in whiteout

AIR Corps pilots used night vision goggles to fly a patient through "very poor" snowy weather conditions to Tallaght Hospital.

The Air Corps is the only organisation in the State with specialised NVG capability, allowing crews to operate in reduced visibility weather conditions and adding to the safety of night time operations, a Defence Forces spokesman said.

Last night, an Air Corps Agusta AW139 troop transport helicopter flew a teenage patient from Cork University Hospital to Baldonnel for onward transfer to Tallaght Hospital.

It was the second air ambulance mission flown by the Air Corps in three days in very bad weather conditions.

On Saturday, the Learjet --one of the Government jets -- equipped with a specialised stretcher, carried a sick child from Baldonnel to a snowbound London for an urgent transplant operation.


Yesterday evening's flight by the twin-engined AW139 chopper was the 63rd air ambulance mission flown by the Air Corps so far this year.

The air ambulance missions are carried out under a service level agreement between the Departments of Defence and Health and Children.

They typically involve the transfer of organ retrieval and transplant teams as well as acutely ill patients between hospitals in Ireland and the UK.

Air Corps aircraft involved include the AW139, Casa CN235 maritime patrol planes, Learjet 45 and Eurocopter EC135 choppers.The Learjet and the helicopters can be fitted with a medical "Life Port" system, allowing a stretcher to be transferred directly from an ambulance into the aircraft with all life support systems remaining fully operational.