Air ambulance takes sting out of potentially tragic case in Adrigole

May 29th, 2020 11:50 AM

By Jackie Keogh

The air ambulance service is back to a seven-day operation. It is a flexible and much-praised service which has clocked up many successful missions since it took to the air.

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Supporters rally ‘round to support our ‘flying doctors’

THE life of a former nurse who went into anaphylaxis after being stung by a bee was saved by the air ambulance.

Friends and relatives of Marion O’Neill of Bantry all contributed generously to a GoFundMe page after she was saved by the helicopter service and a local ambulance crew.

Maeve O’Neill, and five others, set up the fund after her mother was stung by a bee at their apiary in Adrigole on Friday, May 8th. Within two minutes, Mrs O’Neill had fallen to the ground and her husband, John, dialled 999.

Castletownbere ambulance and the air ambulance were dispatched and were on the scene within 20 minutes.

Mrs O’Neill’s condition deteriorated rapidly, but she was swiftly transferred to Bantry General Hospital where she received excellent care.

Maeve O’Neill commented on the ICRR website that ‘only for the vital, life-saving services, which the Castletownbere ambulance and air ambulance provided, our family could have had a very different outcome that day.’

She said her mother had stings in the past with no ill-effects, so the family would also like to raise awareness among beekeepers, and the general public, regarding this event.

Both John and Marion said they hoped the incident would not deter anyone from bee-keeping. They said: ‘It is a lovely hobby. This was just an isolated incident, a very rare occurrence.’

In raising funds, the family sought to highlight the need to maintain the service provided by the air ambulance (ICRR), particularly in rural areas.

‘If this life-saving service didn’t exist,’ Maeve said, ‘we could have lost our mum. We cannot thank the incredible crew that saved Mum enough. We will be forever indebted to them and to our dad.’

In a statement, Mrs O’Neill said: ‘I’m so grateful to ICRR for saving my life. Without the ICRR air ambulance and local ambulance we, as a family, could have had a vastly different outcome that day.

‘We want to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining this vital service. My husband and I are overwhelmed by the generosity of our family, friends and the public.’

The €9,000 that they have raised – a figure that continues to increase with each passing day – and the efforts of other community groups, has been instrumental in helping the life-saving service return to a seven-day operation.

Another member of the O’Neill family, who was celebrating his birthday on May 9th, did a birthday fundraiser on Facebook and raised and additional €1,000 for the life-saving service.

Ruth Bruton the operations manager of the Irish Community Rapid Response charity, which operates the service, confirmed it will go back to being a seven-day service from June 1st next.

She credited the ‘community-at-home’ fundraising events for saving the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) from the imminent danger of being grounded.

The service had been reduced to a five-day service as a cost saving measure, and it was in real danger of ceasing to operate due to lack of funds.

According to Ruth, ‘a return to seven-days service has been a huge focus for the ICRR team and we are thrilled to finally see the Air Ambulance where it should be – in the air when we need it most.

‘The public made this possible, but we still have the ongoing challenge of keeping it going, and in that regard every mission counts, and every donation counts.’

To make a donation  see the Irish Community Rapid Response page on

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