Cork councillors call for State funding for air ambulance

The motion was proposed by Fine Gael councillor John Paul O’Shea at a recent full council meeting
Cork councillors call for State funding for air ambulance

Pictured at the Irish Community Air Ambulance base in Rathcoole, Cork are Key Relationships Managers, Karen O'Sullivan and Lorraine Toner; Advanced Paramedic Paul Traynor; CEO Micheal Sheridan; Advanced Paramedic James Ward and Chief Pilot Donnagh Verling. Pic: Brian Lougheed

A letter from Cork County Council is to be sent to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and all the other county council chambers in Munster requesting that annual funding be made available for the Irish Community Air Ambulance Service which is located in Cork.

The motion was proposed by Fine Gael councillor John Paul O’Shea at a recent full council meeting, and it received unanimous support from all the councillors who praises the service provide by the Irish Community Air Ambulance Services.

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is Ireland’s only charity air ambulance and works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service.

The helicopter is based in Rathcoole in North Cork with critical care teams on the ground in Dublin, Mayo, and Donegal.

Cllr O’Shea said the organisation does great work but receives no State funding.

“It is a wonderful organisation,” he said. “This charity organisation has played a critical role in saving many lives in Cork County and across Munster.

“They completed 512 missions last year. It is a fully charitable organisation. It doesn’t get any State funding at the present time. They have to pay for the base, equipment and the pilot.

“There needs to be a longer-term funding process agreed with Government to fund this organisation. It has served us very well since its inception a number of years ago.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Ian Doyle seconded the motion.

“It is a huge organisation within the Munster area,” he said. “The day-to-day funding of the vital service needs Government funding.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll added that the service should not be “depending” on fundraising and charity.

“It is a vital service,” he said. “So many people owe their lives to the service.

“This service should be supported strongly by the Government.”

Cllr John Paul O’Shea said it was “heart-warming” to receive so much support from his colleagues.

“The funding element needs to be sorted,” he said. “It costs in the region of just over €2m to run it. It has to be funded appropriately and an early decision has to be made on this.

“The air ambulance deserves this.”

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