No decision made on future of HSE’s air ambulance service

Pilot project nearing end of 12-month trial period

The crews of Medevac 112 have completed more than 260 missions since the scheme was launched. The Irish Coast Guard has carried out in excess of 40 missions on behalf of the EAS because it was better placed to respond in terms of location and flying times. Photograph:Bryan O’Brien

The crews of Medevac 112 have completed more than 260 missions since the scheme was launched. The Irish Coast Guard has carried out in excess of 40 missions on behalf of the EAS because it was better placed to respond in terms of location and flying times. Photograph:Bryan O’Brien

 


No decision has yet been made on the future of the HSE’s air ambulance service which is nearing the end of its 12-month trial.

The pilot Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS), operated by the Air Corps in support of the National Ambulance Service (NAS), was launched on June 4th last.

An Augusta Westland AW139 helicopter (Medevac 112), along with its Air Corps and HSE crews, is based at Custume Barracks in Athlone.

The trial service was established following agreement between the Ministers for Health and Defence through a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The pilot was established to determine the level and type of dedicated EAS service, if any, might be needed to support the ambulance service.

It allows ambulance paramedics who respond to emergency calls to request air ambulance support if they think it’s required. All such requests are handled at the National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre based at Tullamore in Co Offaly.

The crews of Medevac 112 have completed more than 260 missions since the scheme was launched.

The Irish Coast Guard has carried out in excess of 40 missions on behalf of the EAS because it was better placed to respond in terms of location and flying times.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The MoU requires a full evaluation of the pilot to be initiated three months before the end of the trial period.

“This review is nearing completion and a report will be submitted to the Minister for Health shortly.”

Cardiac-related incidents, including heart attacks, accounted for 43 per cent of all calls while 17 per cent involved medical issues such as strokes, seizures and diabetes. Industrial and agricultural accidents and other trauma incidents made up 19 per cent of all calls to date while 8 per cent were to serious road traffic collisions.