A Cork woman has said she might not have survived a serious car crash last year had it not been for the Irish Community Air Ambulance (ICAA).
22-year-old Emma McGuire from Douglas was travelling to Tralee with a friend on March 8, 2020 when they were involved in a serious crash between Killarney and Tralee.
Emma said the last thing she remembers before the crash is coming to the roundabout in Killarney. Her next memory is waking up in the hospital more than 24 hours later.
She was in critical condition and ICAA had flown her to Cork University Hospital.
Her spleen burst, she had to be resuscitated at the hospital and was given 14 units of blood in total. Emma underwent emergency surgery that night to remove her spleen and the following day had further surgery on her femur and ankle.
Emma also underwent surgery at Tallaght University Hospital on March 23 for a fractured pelvis before returning to CUH.
It was June before Emma finally returned home.
Emma suffered significant injuries and still walks with a crutch.
She said the majority of people in an accident as serious as hers don’t survive it.
“The Air Ambulance was there to fly me.
"I never would have imagined that my life could be so dependent on a service like that and it goes to show how necessary the Air Ambulance is.”
Emma hopes to finally meet her rescuers in person this summer after the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
“I want them to be able to see how their work has paid off.”
Emma enlisted the help of her family and friends as she undertook the ‘Marching Through March’ challenge to raise money and give back to the ICAA, setting the ambitious target of walking 10 million steps between them all. They walked 3,272km in total.
Emma said the challenge motivated her as the one-year anniversary of the accident approached.
“It focused my mind on something positive, instead of focusing on the negative I was able to say it’s a year later, I’m walking with a crutch and I’m actually able to do this."
Emma set a target of €5,000 and reached that total within 24 hours. She said she was so overwhelmed with the response she got and raised €14,000.
Emma is in her final year of Law at UCC, she plans to sit her final exams in May. She said being able to attend lectures virtually from home has helped in her recovery.
Emma shared her story as ICAA have released figures that show they were tasked to 127 incidents across nine counties during the first three months of 2021.
The figures represent a 21% increase compared to the same period last year when there were 105 call outs.
The ICAA, formerly Irish Community Rapid Response, based in Rathcoole in County Cork, works in tandem with the National Ambulance Service to provide both paramedic support and transport to hospital for seriously ill patients.
Figures from the ICAA show that March was the single busiest month since the start of the year, with the Air Ambulance being tasked a total of 47 times. There were 41 missions in February and 39 in January. Cardiac arrests account for the most incidents, with a total of 32 taskings between January and the end of March.
Amongst the other incidents responded to were;
- 18 road traffic collisions
- 18 farming accidents
- 15 general trauma calls
- 15 general medical calls
- 10 falls from heights
- 4 equestrian incidents
Irish Community Air Ambulance Chief Executive Mícheál Sheridan said: “The taskings have increased year-on-year for Q1 by more than 20% already this year and this shows that demand continues to grow for our Air Ambulance service in Ireland. The ICAA Air Ambulance is airborne in under four minutes of being tasked by the National Ambulance Service and is thirty minutes away from most of the areas within its catchment.
The Irish Community 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 ICAA Charity Air Ambulance can put a 25,000km2 area within 30 minutes of emergency medical care. The Air Ambulance is staffed by advanced paramedics and EMTs from the National Ambulance Service.