THE proposed new air ambulance service would save lives in West Cork, according to John Kearney.
The Baltimore man – together with Ken Smyth and John Murphy – have set up a new company called Irish Community Air Ambulance, which is hoping to raise €1m from one million people living in the Munster area.
An instant text message system has now been launched which allows people donate €4 automatically towards the target.
John said the €1m would pay for the leasing of a helicopter and a pilot, and use local medical resources in its first year, but that the cost for each and every subsequent year would be €2m.
It is envisaged that the service would cover all of Munster from a base at Cork Airport and could – if the funding target is reached – be up and running by Spring 2017.
‘With the furthest reaches of West Cork less than 25 minutes away by helicopter, a new air ambulance service would save lives,’ said John, ‘not just because it provides a fast mode of transport, but because it would have a critical care team, and the necessary medical equipment, on board.’
He claims the new service would mirror other successful flying doctor services throughout the UK and complement existing emergency services, such as the Emergency Aeromedical Service, which is operated by the National Ambulance Service in partnership with the Irish Air Corps, and is based in Athlone.
With West Cork’s rugged terrain, three remote peninsulas, and seven inhabited islands, John said that people are dying unnecessarily due to the time it takes to receive critical care.
He said the new air ambulance service would also complement the voluntary Rapid Response Service, which has been in existence since 2009.
Over the last seven years, he said the Rapid Response Service and its team – which includes five Level Four clinicians and more than 100 GPs – has saved countless lives.
‘The launch of a community air ambulance is the next obvious step,’ said John, who believes the €1m is achievable.
‘All it would take is for people to donate €2 per person, per year.’
Supporters can do that by texting the word FLIGHT to 50300 which automatically gives €4 to the cause.
A fundraising team from the Irish Community Air Ambulance company will travel to every town in Munster over the next six months in a bid to raise money.
People are also being encouraged to log onto www.communityairambulance.ie to make a donation, or to sign up to host a fundraising event in their own community.