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Air ambulance funded by charity in talks on state funding

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Irelands only charitable funded air ambulance is engaging with the government to secure state funding.

The Irish Community Rapid Reaction (ICRR), which runs the life-saving service from its airfield north of KS, is also talking to regional politicians about how to access state funding sources in the same way as similar air ambulance services in the UK and Northern Ireland yes.

ICRR fundraising streams were destroyed during the pandemic, but the helicopter and its auxiliary crew continued to respond to tasks from the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

The air ambulance, which launched in September 2019, was charged with 490 incidents in 13 counties in 2020. Between January 1 and March 31 this year, it responded to 125 tasks. Each mission costs the charity an average of 3,500.

On Good Friday alone, the air ambulance was charged three times – to transfer a heart attack patient from north Kerry to Limerick University Hospital, to transport a person injured in a Newmarket road traffic accident to Cork University Hospital (CUH) and to raise the air. another person who was injured while walking north of KS, back to CUH.

Last week, ICRR representatives met virtually with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, local Fianna Fil TD, Michael Moynihan, and NAS representatives to discuss funding. More meetings with regional leaders are planned.

ICRR chief executive Mchel Sheridan described the talks as very productive.

We explained to the minister the vital role that our community air ambulance is playing in saving lives and the impact it is having on families in communities beyond Munster, he said.

We are extremely grateful to our army of volunteer fundraisers, but we are aware of the growing need for air ambulance.

Equivalent services in the UK and Northern Ireland both recently received funding from the Government and we hope for the same here in Ireland. “

The ICRR service has brought the population to a 25,000 sq m region within 30 minutes of emergency medical care.

The crew, advanced assistants to NAS and EMT, bring victims to the hospital that best suit their needs, not just the closest geographically.

The Irish Community Rapid Reaction Ambulance was charged with 490 incidents in 13 counties during 2020, which was the first full year in operation.  Photo: Darragh Kane

The Irish Community Rapid Reaction Ambulance was charged with 490 incidents in 13 counties during 2020, which was the first full year in operation. Photo: Darragh Kane

The charity has two helicopters stationed at its Rathcoole airfield – only one of which is operational at all times, the other acting as a backup.

But a new faster helicopter with increased beam capacity will be delivered later in the year.

Mr Sheridan said: “We already own an additional helicopter asset and we know there will always be a demand for service across the country.

One priority for us in 2021 is to work with other partners to ensure that everyone on the island of Ireland is within 30 minutes of an air ambulance service or provided by ICRR or the Irish Air Corporations.

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