WE just want to be in the air so we can save lives and save families grief.
That’s the message from the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) who are hoping that Ireland’s first community Air Ambulance will be airborne within weeks.
This follows the recent announcement that a service level agreement has been signed between the HSE and the charity ICRR.
Ruth Bruton, operations manager with ICRR – based at the Rathcoole Aerodome, north east of Millstreet – said they are really excited to be at this stage.
‘Last Friday was an important milestone for ICRR and we now want the Department of Health to give us a definite commencement date,’ said Ruth,
‘The sooner this is live the better so we can save lives and save families grief. This air ambulance belongs to the people and while we are the ones that put it in place, it belongs to you.’
She pointed out that their base at Rathcoole means they will be centrally located to respond to incidents across the southern part of the country and will be only 14 minutes from Skibbereen for example.
‘While primarily we are Munster-based we will be attached to the 999 National Ambulance Service so we could be sent anywhere around the 26 counties.’
The helicopter, which visited several locations across West Cork last autumn, will be staffed by one pilot (two pilots on rotation) and two experienced National Ambulance Service medics.
‘We have a wonderful base here in Rathcoole and our helicopter is very flexible for landing at emergencies, which means we will get as close as possible to the casualty,’ said Ruth.
ICRR director and Baltimore native John Kearney thanked the public, who generously supported the project, and called for continued support to maintain it long into the future.
‘ICRR is a charity and in the contract we have committed to fundraising €2m annually to pay for the helicopter, the pilots, the airbase at Rathcoole and the fuel. That is why this is a community air ambulance,’ said John.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West Michael Moynihan said that hundreds of lives will be saved as a result of the announcement.
‘I am glad that, finally, after months of unnecessary delays, approval has been given for the air ambulance service to begin its work and I welcome the fact that the Minister has finally given the service the green light,’ said Deputy Moynihan.