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07 Aug 2022

Charity-led air ambulance attends record number of emergency incidents in Limerick

Charity-led air air ambulance attends record number of emergency incidents in Limerick

Micheál Sheridan, CEO of Irish Community Air Ambulance | PICTURE: Brian Lougheed

THE Irish Community Air Ambulance was tasked to 34 emergency incidents in Limerick during 2021 - up from 21 the previous years.

In addition to attending a variety of incidents in Limerick, Helimed 92 completed 34 transfers of patients to University Hospital Limerick last year - 20% of all hospital transfers.

In total, 512 missions in 14 counties were completed over the 12 months which was the busiest year since the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Air Ambulance launched in July 2019. There were 490 taskings in 2020. 

The organisation, which is based at Rathcoole in North Cork, is Ireland’s only charity-funded HEMS Air Ambulance. It works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service and responds to serious incidents and medical emergencies. Each mission costs an average of €3,500, all of which has to be raised or donated.

Commenting on its activities over the past year, Micheál Sheridan, CEO of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, said the charity engaged with the Government and regional political leaders throughout 2021 to secure some State support for the vital service.

“The HSE is releasing funding to private Ambulance firms to provide support during the continuing crisis yet the Irish Community Air Ambulance is still entirely funded by public donations. The increased number of taskings during 2021 show that we provide a vital service. The cost to run the charity during 2022 is expected to be €2.1 million which is a significant amount of money to raise," he said.

There were more calls to cardiac arrests, farming-related incidents and falls from heights during 2021. Cardiac arrests accounted for one in five calls with 103 taskings last year, that’s up from 81 during 2020. 

The incidents responded to included:

89 Road traffic collisions 
64 Farming incidents
64 Cardiovascular (Heart attacks and strokes)
63 General trauma calls
61 General medical calls
48 Falls from heights
20 Equestrian incidents

July and April were the busiest months of the year for the service with 57 missions completed each month. Cork, Kerry and Tipperary accounted for the majority of taskings.

"We cover an area of 25,000 square kilometres and treat some of the most critically ill and injured patients, bringing them to the hospital that is best suited to their life-saving needs, not just the closest hospital geographically," said Mr Sheridan.

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