Ireland’s first Charity led Air Ambulance has delivered in excess of 100 missions within its first two months of service – and has launched a major fundraising appeal for corporate and public support.
The new Air Ambulance is ahead of target to deliver a forecast 500 life-saving missions per annum. However, €2m will have to be raised each year to keep the service airborne.
The Co. Cork based service is being led by Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) and delivered with the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Department of Health.
The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) went live on Tuesday, July 30. It had been tasked with 93 missions up to last Tuesday (eight weeks of service) and passed its 100th mission late last week.
The charity is making contact with major companies and successful business leaders seeking support.
A public appeal, involving a nationwide raffle, called ‘Flight for Life’ is also going live. The major prize will be a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter trip from Italy to Ireland, flying over the Alps, on board a new helicopter will be phased into operation later in the year.
Partnerships with major public events, and community-based fundraising events, are planned. Details of the fundraising drive are at www.icrr.ie and more will follow in the coming weeks.
ICRR Chairperson Fergal Conlon called for strong public support and said that a new Chief Operations Officer has been appointed to lead the fundraising work.
“The Air Ambulance is a very positive and needed service which is saving lives and has already come to the aid of more than 100 families in two months.
“I am delighted to announce that an experienced fundraiser and charity sector leader Lynda Stopford has been recruited as ICRR’s new COO and she will lead the fundraising campaign. She will be working with staff, volunteers and a Cork-based fundraising consultancy to reach our targets.
“The charity is also delighted to announce that it has secured a back-up helicopter, which will be permanently housed in the hanger at the Rathcool base in north-west Cork. The back-up helicopter came into use last week while the main helicopter was undergoing routine servicing. It will remain at the Airbase as a back-up aircraft, and as is normal for an Air Ambulance service.”
The National Ambulance Service tasks the HEMS through 112 / 999 calls to its National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).
The service was launched in early September by An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and brings the population of a 10,000 square mile area within 20 minutes of critical medical care.
ICRR led Ground Services tasked with 563 missions in 2019
Since 2008, ICRR has also developed a network of over 250 land based volunteer doctors and ten Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs), across the country, to deliver critical medical interventions, which prevent serious injury or death. These services are also dispatched to calls by the NEOC, within the National Ambulance Service.
This network of ground service RRVs have been tasked with 563 missions to date this year and ICRR has plans to expand the number of RRV services over the coming year.