The country’s first charity air ambulance faces being grounded in two weeks.
This is because staff at the Irish Community Rapid Response (IRCC) charity running it can’t afford to run it without “immediate” financial help.
And they say they urgently need €400,000 of the €2 million it costs to run.
A new GoFundMe campaign was launched five days ago to raise the €400,000 and as of shortly before 4pm yesterday, 48 donors had raised €1,907.
In an explanatory note to go with the campaign, it states: “Ireland’s new charity Air Ambulance service to be grounded in two weeks’ time without immediate support from you.” And it says: “The ICRR Air Ambulance needs the immediate donation of €400,000 to keep its services flying across Ireland.
“It risks grounding of its vital lifesaving air ambulance that has saved countless lives across Ireland. The success of the Air Ambulance has meant we’ve flown an additional 17 missions per month on average than we expected.”
ICRR fundraising coordinator Rút Briútean says this means additional costs, including the €3,500 each mission costs on average, are being incurred to keep the service flying.
We estimate over 600 missions could be flown in 2020 and those 600 lifesaving missions are in jeopardy without immediate funding
It launched with an Augusta Westland AW109 aircraft from its base near Millstreet, Co Cork, last July. Since then, it says it has helped bring emergency care to 250 people.
Although the National Ambulance Service (NAS) provides medical staff and coordinates the taskings, the charity funds the helicopters, pilots, fuel and its airbase.
Last September, the charity said funding would amount to €2 million per year.
The funding plea comes despite ICRR insisting late last year its service wouldn’t be affected after it agreed to provide back-up for the state-funded helicopter. It emerged last November staff shortages at the Air Corps-operated HEMS have left it unable to operate its AW139 helicopter for four days throughout January and February.
ICRR was asked to step in and provide HEMS cover during these grounding days and the charity said it would deploy its secondary aircraft.
This latest urgent IRCC appeal follows on from the last one made at the start of December. Then it stated it was running out of funds and needed €250,000 by the end of the year or face being grounded.
While it has a €2 million-a-year fundraising target, the charity received €193,313 in ‘donations and fundraising’ up until the December 31, 2018 year-end.
Among the ways to donate are ICRR’s www.idonate.ie page or the www.gofundme.com page entitled “Keep the ICRR air ambulance flying”.
You can also text FLIGHT to 50300 to donate €4 - enough to pay for just under a minute of fuel.