THE Cork-based Irish Community Air Ambulance was tasked to 512 missions in 14 counties during 2021, its busiest year since the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Air Ambulance launched in July 2019.
Cardiac arrests accounted for one in five calls with 103 taskings last year, that’s up from 81 during 2020. There were 89 taskings to road traffic collisions in 2021.
One in every three taskings required an airlift to hospital. There were 111 transfers to Cork University Hospital during 2021 which equates to 66% of all transfers.
The organisation is Ireland’s only charity-funded HEMS Air Ambulance. It works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service and responds to serious incidents and medical emergencies. Each helicopter mission costs an average of €3,500, all of which has to be raised or donated.
CEO of ICAA, Micheál Sheridan said: “The HSE is releasing funding to private Ambulance firms to provide support during the continuing crisis yet the Irish Community Air Ambulance is still entirely funded by public donations.
“The cost to run the charity during 2022 is expected to be €2.1 million which is a significant amount of money to raise. We are so grateful to all our supporters but we will continue to engage with the Government to provide funding during these uncertain times.”
Diarmuid O’Donovan from Cork was seriously injured when he was thrown over the handlebars of his bike while cycling around Slea Head, Co Kerry in May of 2021. He said he needed to be brought to a dedicated Trauma Centre quickly.
“I was drifting in and out of consciousness and it quickly emerged that I needed to be at Cork University Hospital as soon as possible.
"I wasn’t in a suitable state for a two-and-a-half-hour journey by road so the Irish Community Air Ambulance was tasked.
“The journey to CUH by helicopter took just 30 minutes. I had 28 different bone breaks including my spine, shoulder and ribs as well as a punctured lung. I underwent several procedures that evening and spent 12 days in hospital. I believe it could have been far worse if I had not been transported to CUH so quickly and that my recovery has been much faster as a result.”