A NEW air ambulance to serve rural parts of Cork and Kerry is expected to be operational next month.
The Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), a charity dedicated to pre-hospital care is running the helicopter service in co-operation with the HSE National Ambulance Service.
The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) will enter full-time daylight hours service next month.
The Air Ambulance is expected to respond up to 500 calls per year, and bring the population of a 10,000 square mile area within 20 minutes of critical medical care.
It will be tasked through the National Ambulance Service 999 / 112 call system and is supported by the HSE and Department of Health.
The service will cost €2million to run annually and is to be funded through community and donor contributions.
John Kearney, the driving force behind the project and director of ICRR, said they are delighted the project finally has approval to get airborne — all they need now is a definitive date.
“The sooner this vital service is live, the sooner a life will be saved and grief will be spared,” he said.
The helicopter spent five months in a hangar in Rathcoole, Co Cork, pending sign-off on a service level agreement, at a cost of tens of thousands per month, with its pilots travelling to the UK to maintain their flying hours.