The long awaited air ambulance service based in Cork has gone live today.
The charitably funded Helicopter Emergency Medical Service |(HEMS) will operate from Rathcoole Aerodrome and serve the Munster region.
The valuable service will help ensure that seriously ill or injured people in remote areas have more timely access to appropriate high-quality clinical care.
The air ambulance project, operated by Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), has been ready to operate since the start of the year with a new base, trained staff and helicopter in place.
However, Minister for Health Simon Harris had failed to sign off on the project until now.
The Echo revealed earlier this year that almost half a million euro was spent on the Cork-based service before it had even taken to the skies.
Welcoming the launch, Minister Harris said:
“The new service will significantly improve access to aeromedical services for people living in the south of the country, and will complement our very successful Emergency Aeromedical Service which operates in conjunction with the Irish Air Corps.
He acknowledged the efforts of the Irish Community Rapid Response charity for their commitment to establish this service and thanked the National Ambulance Service.
He added that he looks forward to visiting the new base in Rathcoole in the next few weeks.
The new service will be delivered by the HSE National Ambulance Service in partnership with the Irish Community Rapid Response.
The charity will fund the aviation service while the Government, through the HSE, will provide the clinical staff i.e. an Advanced Paramedic and an Emergency Medical Technician and consumables.
Additional resources of €0.25m have been made available to the National Ambulance Service to fund the additional manpower capacity required.
The ICRR revealed earlier this year that €400,000 has been invested in the air ambulance base facilities and that more than €50,000 has been spent on paramedic training for the service.
“Existing air ambulance Services have been proven to save lives both in Ireland and abroad and this is why getting the service into operation is imperative, as delays could cost lives,” a spokesperson for the service said.