Air ambulance launches Christmas fundraiser to help light up the sky

December 3rd, 2021 4:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Adalyn Kenny and Harvey O’Mahony helping to launch the Christmas appeal along with helicopter pilot Donagh Verling. (Photo: Brian Lougheed)

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THE Cork based Irish Community Air Ambulance is asking supporters and businesses to help it ‘Light Up The Sky’ and sponsor a star to fund lifesaving missions this Christmas.

Each donation made through the organisation’s website will light a virtual star, supporters can also leave a message for the crew or light a star in honor of a loved one.

There were 42 taskings during December 2020, including one on Christmas Day. Crews launched 12 times between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to counties Cork, Clare, Kerry, Limerick and Waterford costing an estimated €42,000.

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is Ireland’s only charity-funded Air Ambulance. It responds to serious incidents and medical emergencies every day of the year, including Christmas Day, from its base in Rathcoole, North Cork.

Each helicopter mission costs an average of €3,500, all of which has to be raised or donated. The HEMS Air Ambulance has been tasked by the National Ambulance Service to 468 incidents so far in 2021. One in five calls has been to cardiac arrests, followed by road traffic collisions and farming incidents.

Cork accounts for more than a third of all incidents (37%), followed by Kerry with 23%. Both Tipperary and Clare account for 12% of missions in 2021. Kerry, Tipperary and Clare have all seen an increase in taskings when compared to 2020.

CEO of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, Micheál Sheridan said: ‘Our team of pilots and National Ambulance Service paramedics will be on standby throughout the holidays. Whilst many of us will be enjoying Christmas day with family and friends our crew will be away from theirs and will be available to respond if they are required. Our crew and those working in emergency services work tirelessly throughout the year and Christmas is no exception. The cost to run the charity this year is €2.1m; the HEMS Air Ambulance alone is expected to cost €1.55m this year. By buying a star on our website you are helping us to light up the sky and bring hope to people in emergency situations in our communities this Christmas.’

Chief pilot Donnagh Verling, from Clonakilty will be on duty on Christmas day. He said: ‘Medical emergencies and other traumas don’t stop because it’s Christmas and neither do we. We’re called to the most serious of incidents including cardiac arrests, road crashes and farming accidents. We’re happy to give up our Christmas day if it means that we can bring someone to the hospital that best suits their life saving needs faster. We can put a 25,000km2 area within 30 minutes of emergency medical care and will be on standby throughout Christmas to support our colleagues in the National Ambulance Service, the fire service and An Garda Siochana.’


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