Ireland’s only charity-funded air ambulance, which is based in North Cork, is seeking Government funding to ensure the survival of the vital service.
The Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) Air Ambulance has started engaging with the Government and regional politicians about securing “additional supports” for its vital service.
The ICRR said they are exploring Government funding as a type of support in Ireland in addition to traditional fundraising.
The Munster-based helicopter was tasked with 490 incidents across 13 counties in 2020- each mission costs an average of €3,500.
There have been 125 taskings already in 2021.
A priority for the ICRR is to work with other partners to ensure everyone on the island of Ireland is within 30 minutes of an air ambulance service either provided by ICRR or the Irish Aer Corps.
Earlier this week, representatives from ICRR met virtually with Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, Deputy Michael Moynihan TD and the National Ambulance Service to discuss the funding of the service.
A series of other meetings with regional leaders are being planned.
CEO of the ICRR, Mícheál Sheridan said: "We had a very productive meeting this week with the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly. We explained to the Minister the vital role that our Community Air Ambulance is playing in saving lives and the impact that is having on families in communities across Munster.
“Equivalent services in the UK and Northern Ireland both recently received Government funding and we are hopeful for the same here in Ireland.” The ICRR Air Ambulance can bring casualties to the hospital that best suits their life-saving needs, not just the closest geographically.
From the base in North Cork, the ICRR Charity Air Ambulance can put a 25,000km2 area within 30 minutes of emergency medical care.
The ICRR Air Ambulance is staffed by advanced paramedics and EMTs from the National Ambulance Service.
The vital service currently has two helicopters at its medical aerodrome in Rathcoole, County Cork, only one of which is operational at any one time, the other acting as a backup.
A new faster helicopter with a longer range capacity is due to be delivered later in the year.