Ireland’s first charity led Air Ambulance, which is based in Cork, delivered 56 missions in its first month of service.
The new Air Ambulance is expected to perform 500 life-saving missions every year and to be largely funded by public donations.
The new service was officially launched on Monday by Tánaiste and Cork TD Simon Coveney.
The Cork based service is being led by Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) and delivered with the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Department of Health.
The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) went live on Tuesday, July 30.
It was tasked with 56 missions during its first month and, on its busiest day to date, the service was tasked five times.
The National Ambulance Service tasks the HEMS through 112 / 999 calls to its National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).
“This project involves Irish Community Rapid Response and the HSE’s National Ambulance Service coming together to save lives and serve the public good,” said Tanaiste Simon Coveney.
“I strongly commend this partnership approach and the State is fully committed to it. It will assist in saving lives by delivering rapid care to patients.”
ICRR, Founder and Volunteer John Kearney said the launch was the realisation of a dream and the charity called on the public to now support the project, as it is to be largely funded through public donations.
“The first month of service has shown with no doubt the real need for this service. Its use has exceeded expectations,” said Mr Kearney.
“It has been very rewarding to see it become a reality for people and families at their most critical hour of need.
“I am certain that lives have already been saved and that so many more will be,” he added.
“I want to acknowledge the essential contribution of our partners in the HSE National Ambulance Service and Department of Health.
“However, this is a community-based charity led service and it will need to raise €2m annually from the public to remain operational.
“ICRR will shortly be launching a major fundraising drive and will be calling on the public, on companies, on individuals and communities to support the Air Ambulance.
“Our thanks to so many for such generous support to date.”
The Director of the National Ambulance Service, Martin Dunne welcomed a successful first month of operations.
“This HEMS service complements the existing service provided by the Athlone based aeromedical service and will contribute to further enhance emergency medical services in Ireland.
“We look forward to continuing to deliver a high-quality service for the benefit of all in the State,” he added.
In the partnership which has been agreed the charity is funding the cost of the helicopter, the pilots, the fuel and the airbase near Millstreet in Cork.
The National Ambulance Service is resourcing the medical staffing and coordinating all the tasking of the craft through its aeromedical desk situated in the NEOC in Tallaght.
While Munster based it will be available for missions nationwide and work in tandem with the existing Athlone based Emergency Aeromedical Service.
The charity Air Ambulance brings the population of a 10,000 square mile area within 20 minutes of critical medical care.