The Charity Air Ambulance pictured during a demonstration at its official launch at Rathcoole Aerodrome in North County Cork on 2 September.

Ireland’s first charity-led Air Ambulance, which was recently launched in North Cork, is expected to perform over 500 life-saving missions per annum. Led by Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), the service will be delivered in partnership with the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Department of Health.

Liam O’Riordan from Rathcoole (centre), who fell off a ladder and injured his back, was the first person to be airlifted to hospital by the Charity Air Ambulance, is pictured with (l-r): John Kearney, ICRR Founder and CEO; Captain John Murray; Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, and crew member Paul Traynor at Rathcoole Aerodrome in North County Cork.

An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, officially launched the service on 2 September at Rathcoole Aerodrome, just northeast of Millstreet in North County Cork. Commending the partnership approach, he said that the project involves Irish Community Rapid Response and the HSE’s National Ambulance Service “coming together to save lives…by delivering rapid care to patients”.

ICRR Founder and Volunteer John Kearney said the charity is now calling on the public to support the project, as it is to be largely funded through public donations. “As this is a community-based charity led service, €2m will need to be raised annually from the public to remain operational. “ICRR will shortly launch a major fundraising drive and will be calling on the public, companies and individuals and communities to support the Air Ambulance – our thanks to so many for such generous support to date.”

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), which went live on Tuesday 30 July and delivered 56 missions during the first month, will be based in North County Cork. The National Ambulance Service tasks the HEMS through 112/999 calls to its National Emergency Operations Centre, which operates across sites in Tallaght, Dublin and Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. 

Martin Dunne, National Ambulance Service, John Kearney, Founder and Volunteer, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, Minister of State, Dept of Health Jim Daly and Captain John Murray pictured at the official launch of the Charity Air Ambulance at Rathcoole Aerodrome.

The Director of the National Ambulance Service, Martin Dunne, welcomed its first successful month of operations. “This HEMS service compliments the existing service provided by the Athlone-based aeromedical service and will contribute to further enhance emergency medical services in Ireland. We look forward to continuing to deliver a high-quality service for the benefit of all in the State.”