Demands for HSE to bail out Irish Community Rapid Response air ambulance

Demands for HSE to bail out Irish Community Rapid Response air ambulance

Kerry and Cork county councillors are demanding the HSE and Health Minister Simon Harris bail out the Irish Community Rapid Response air ambulance.

Most councillors asked by the Irish Examiner for their opinion said they believe the minister needs to urgently clarify what contingency plans are in place if the ICRR service is grounded.

They also believe that both organisations should step in with provisional emergency funds as soon as possible to make sure the service is not grounded.

Concern continues to grow over the future of the Irish Community Rapid Response charity air ambulance, despite Minister Harris telling the HSE to save the service.

Although the National Ambulance Service (NAS) provides medical staff and coordinates the taskings, the charity needs €2m-a-year to fund the helicopters, pilots, fuel and its airbase.

It has raised more than €700,000 through donations, benefactors and public fundraising campaigns but needs another €400,000 to keep flying.

It had raised €14,208 via its GoFundMe page and received €15,648 in donations direct to the charity by 4pm today.

Kerry mayor, Niall Kelleher, said: “This service is critical. This is especially the case given the length of time it takes ambulances to get to parts of south west Ireland. I will be tabling a motion for direct HSE funding on Jan 30 at the next Regional Health Board meeting.”

Cork county mayor, Christopher O’Sullivan, said that both the HSE and the Department of Health need to urgently clarify what contingency plans are in place. Killarney Mayor Michael Gleeson, agreed.

“The Department of Health needs to accept responsibility for the running cost of this very important service.”

Fianna Fáil’s Norma Moriarty, who serves in the Kenmare Municipal District, said that within days of the service starting a call-out involved a local young father who was having a heart attack.

We are 50 miles on sub standard roads from the nearest A & E. The security of knowing that rapid access and transport to the nearest emergency care was invaluable. Without a facility and service like this there is very little chance of patients living in dispersed rural communities like ours accessing the required care within the 'golden hour'.

Marie Moloney, former senator and now Kerry County Councillor for Labour in Killarney said: “This service must be funded as it is an invaluable service and should be funded by central government. We cannot have a lifesaving service grounded.”

Cork County’s Paul Hayes, of Sinn Féin, who has championed the ICRR air ambulance from the start, said: “The Government needs to step in as a matter of urgency to protect this brilliant service. In west Cork, I represent three rural peninsulas and this service is perfect for our needs.”

Fianna Fail’s Gillian Coughlan, Cork County councillor for Bandon-Kinsale, said: “The public has contributed generously to initiate this successful service but this funding model cannot be expected to sustain the service indefinitely.

“It is imperative that the community momentum that initiated this air ambulance is not lost and that the professional and life-saving service is maintained.”

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