A charity has deployed its latest rapid response medical jeep to help save lives in North Kerry and West Limerick.
Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) has based its 10th rapid response vehicle, a top-of-the-range Renault Kadjar Crossover, in Listowel Co Kerry, with support from Renault Ireland.
The vehicle has been kitted out with a range of medical equipment normally found in hospital emergency departments.
ICRR’s rapid response service involves volunteer doctors working alongside frontline HSE emergency services to respond to medical emergencies.
Its latest service will be led by local volunteer Dr Andrei Brovchin who will be part of a medical team responding to life-threatening emergencies in areas including Tralee, Listowel, Ballybunion, Tarbert, Foynes, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale and Castleisland.
The ICRR service will be tasked via the 999/112 medical emergency call system at the National Emergency Operations Centre to attend various serious life-threatening emergencies, alongside the HSE’s National Ambulance Service.
They will be able to deliver critically life-saving medical interventions at the scene of the various incidents.
Dr Brovchin said all the evidence shows that having the right treatment in the right place as soon as possible is the key to saving lives in cardiac arrest patients.
“By equipping volunteer doctors and responders with the tools to react quickly within their own communities, they have the best possible chance of getting to patients within the most crucial window of opportunity for survival,” he said.
ICRR CEO John Kearney launched the new jeep at Garvey’s SuperValu in Listowel yesterday and said it is a very positive addition to the communities of North Kerry and West Limerick.
Since 2008, ICRR has developed a network of over 200 volunteer doctors nationwide.
Mr Kearney said it is hoped to increase that number to 250 volunteer doctors this year.
ICRR is also working with the HSE NAS and Department of Health to deliver Ireland’s first community air ambulance service.
But as revealed by the Irish Examiner just over two weeks ago, the helicopter has been sitting in a hangar in north Cork for several months, waiting for final approvals from the HSE to ‘go live’.
ICRR has leased a helicopter and arranged pilots and ground staff, while the HSE NAS is set to provide the paramedical crew to staff the helicopter.
Thanks to donations from the public, ICRR has built a dedicated air ambulance base in Rathcoole near Millstreetat a cost of €400,000.
Staff training is completed and the aircraft has been parked up in the hangar since January.
But the service is still awaiting final approval from the HSE, which then needs to be signed off by the Health Minister.
A spokesman for ICRR said once the final approvals are in place, the service will be airborne almost immediately.
With a top speed of 160mph, the AW109 aircraft can carry a pilot, two medics, a patient on a stretcher and a passenger.
The AW109 will be able to operate during daylight hours only, seven days a week.
The flight-time from Rathcoole to Cork is about 10-minutes, it’s about 14-minutes to Bantry, about 22-minutes to Dingle and about 25-minutes to Waterford.
But ICRR says the aircraft will be a national asset, with enough endurance to fly from its base in north Cork to Malin Head, and on to Dublin, before requiring a refuel.
ICRR estimates that it will cost some €2m a year to operate the service.
ICRR was founded in 2008 and was a winning project at the 2013 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards.