Community fundraising key to keeping Air Ambulance flying

Community fundraising key to keeping Air Ambulance flying

The charity recently received a donation from the Duhallow Fittest GAA Club initiative. 

CORK-BASED charity Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) has made an appeal to the community to continue to raise much-needed funds to maintain its air ambulance.

The charity recently received a donation from the Duhallow Fittest GAA Club initiative, organised by Kiskeam and Ballydesmond GAA Clubs, in a bid to see which club could clock up the most mileage to raise funds for local charities.

A total of 41,000km was covered on foot and €36,000 was raised, €10,000 of which went to the ICRR.

ICRR project manager Donna O’Regan told The Echo that each mission costs an average of €3,500.

“We rely on community support,” said Ms O’Regan. “We had a big drop in donations because normal fundraising events are gone by the wayside due to Covid-19 and we had to drop down to a five day per week service.

“Fortunately, with fundraisers like Duhallow’s Fittest GAA Club, we have been able to return to a seven-day week service.

“We’ve had tremendous support and we are so grateful to the community, but the costs are significant, month on month.

“Without continued support of the community, we won’t be here next year.”

The NGO was started back in 2008 in response to a preventable death in rural west Cork.

“In rural areas, long journeys to hospital can lead to increased mortality, so the community started working on improving this situation,” Ms O’Regan points out.

Network

The charity first worked on developing a network of volunteer doctors, who respond to emergencies within their community.

Some 10 rapid response vehicles kitted out with pre-hospital emergency medical kits are placed in key locations throughout the country to support the doctors in their work.

After years of planning and community driven fundraising, the ICRR Air Ambulance was launched on July 30, 2019, in partnership with the National Ambulance Service.

ICRR takes care of the costs associated with running the helicopter, and the National Ambulance Service provides the medical staff for the air ambulance, including an advanced paramedic and an emergency medical technician.

Based near Millstreet, the helicopter “can be anywhere in Munster in 30 minutes flying time” from the first call to 999.

“When you are out in the Beara peninsula or somewhere very rural, time and distance can work against you,” Ms O’Regan said.

Critical

We’re responding to cardiac arrests, strokes, falls from a height, road traffic accidents, equestrian and farm related incidences and they’re all time critical.”

Ms O’Regan said that the aim of the air ambulance is to ‘maximise resources, save time and save people’s lives’.

“Our vision is that every person in Ireland will receive the care they need at the right time, to give them the best possible chance of surviving.”

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