BY JACKIE KEOGH
THE official launch of a new air ambulance service by the Tánaiste Simon Coveney was a momentous day for everyone, including those who made it possible through donations, big and small.
That is the opinion of Baltimore’s John Kearney – who as a founder member and volunteer of the charitable organisation, the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) – helped to bring the helicopter emergency medical service to a successful conclusion.
John saw the need for such a service in 2006, when the six-year-old daughter of a friend of his died while en route to hospital. John said he knew then, as he knows now, that it is critical to get an injured person to hospital as quickly as possible if they are to have a fighting chance of surviving.
As a case in point, John said he had been speaking to about 300 truckers in July, all of whom were taking part in a fundraising event organised by the Millstreet Vintage Club.
He said he told them they’d never know how, or when, they might need the service. He was proved right, because two days after the helicopter service went live, one of the drivers, Liam O’Riordan, fell and sustained a serious injury, but within seven minutes he was taken from his home and flown to Cork University Hospital.
Liam O’Riordan told reporters he was glad he had been involved in fundraising for the charitable organisation and he made the point: ‘It’s not just for here, but for Clare, Tipperary, Waterford. It helps everywhere.’
The service is up and running, but the fundraising isn’t over. John Kearney said €750,000 will be needed to keep it going between now and the end of the year and he said any business, individual or community organisation that would like to host a fundraising event can contact the IRCC via its website www.ircc.ie or by phoning: 021 4190999.
The service is based at the aerodrome at Rathcoole in Millstreet, and the cost of that, plus the pilot’s wages, fuel and administration costs will be borne by the ICRR, while the cost of the medical personnel will be covered by the National Ambulance Service.
When people heard that the projected annual cost of €2m, they told John it was a pipe dream, that it could never be achieved. But with the help of everyone who made a donation it is here, and hopefully here to stay.