Air ambulance to resume service as communities raise needed funds

Irish Community Rapid Response Air Ambulance is country’s first charity-run operation

Cpt John Murray (centre) with crew Paul Traynor and Brian O’Callaghan and the  air ambulance at Rathcoole aerodrome in north Co Cork. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

Cpt John Murray (centre) with crew Paul Traynor and Brian O’Callaghan and the air ambulance at Rathcoole aerodrome in north Co Cork. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

 

Ireland’s first charity air ambulance service is to resume operating on a seven day basis from next month after communities across Munster managed to raise the finance necessary to get it working again, the service has confirmed.

Operations Manager with the Irish Community Rapid Response Air Ambulance Service (ICRR), Ruth Bruton said that a constant stream of donations and virtual fundraisers will allow a return to a seven day operation from June 1st, 2020.

Ms Bruton explained that the service had operated a five-day only service due to cost saving measures put in place earlier this year after the unprecedented amount of missions and Covid-19 put financial pressure on the service.

“A return to seven-days service has been a huge focus for the ICRR team and we are thrilled to finally see this critically needed Air Ambulance be where it should be; in the air when we need it most .

“We sincerely thank the public for making this possible. However, the ongoing challenge of keeping it there is our priority and continued support from those than can give is vital. Every mission counts, so every donation counts too.”

Costs

Ms Bruton revealed that the ICRR service, which is based at Rathcoole near Millstreet in north Cork, had flown over 383 missions since its commencement in July 2019 with each mission costing on average €3,500.

The ICRR covers all flying related costs while the medical personnel’s wages are paid for by the National Ambulance Service which also covers the cost of medical equipment and medical consumables.

The flying costs for the service includes the cost of the helicopter, pilots, fuel, air base facilities, insurance and other operational needs and was originally projected to amount to €2.5 million per annum.

Ms Bruton said the response of communities across Munster during the Covid-19 pandemic had been extraordinary as they had rallied around to hold virtual fundraising events that has allowed the ICRR return to a seven day service.

She instanced a recent case where the ICRR was tasked to a serious medical emergency in Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula where a local woman, Marian O’Neill suffered, suffered an anaphylactic shock after being stung by a bee.

Ms O’Neill’s daughter, Maeve told how her father, John immediately rang the emergency services and Castletownbere Ambulance and the ICRR responded with the ICRR airlifting her mother to Bantry General Hospital for treatment.

“Only for the vital, life-saving services which the Castletownbere Ambulance an and the ICRR Air Ambulance provided, our family could have had a very different outcome that day,” said Maeve O’Neill.

Competition

Maeve O’Neill and others set up a GoFund Me page and have already raised almost €10,000 for the ICRR Air Ambulance and it is such initiatives that is helping the service resume operations seven days a week, said Ms Bruton.

Meanwhile up in north Cork, some 23 local GAA clubs in Duhallow Division competed for the title of Duhallow’s Fittest Club and raised almost €35,000 for the ICRR Air Ambulance service.

Organiser Sean Linehan said of their fund-raising efforts: “We chose the ICRR Air Ambulance as we see it as a vital service, not only for the Duhallow area, but for the entire Munster region.

“Participants were delighted to get some fun exercise in whilst also help raise vital funds. Some age-old rivalries also surfaced of course, but it was all very much good natured!”