Despite problems with funding and pleas for help to keep flying, North Cork’s Air Ambulance has celebrated one year in operation.
In the last twelve months the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) operated chopper has been sent to over 520 emergency medical incidents in rural and urban locations across Munster, Leinster and Connaught.
Tasked by NAS 999 Emergency Operations Centre, the team responds to the most serious emergencies, where time can make the difference between life and death.
The most common call outs include cardiac arrest, road traffic collisions, a fall from height, equestrian incidents, farming related injuries and stroke.
Flying at speeds of up to 260km/hr, Helimed92 can bring an advanced paramedic to the side of a patient anywhere in Munster within 30 minutes.
John Finnegan, chairman of the board of directors, spoke of his group’s delight at reaching the one year milestone.
"We would like to sincerely thank all our friends and supporters who have worked hard to help us launch our air ambulance one year ago.
“These past 12 months have proved that the air ambulance is a vital service and the community has really gotten behind us. People know that they could need the air ambulance at any time, and our mission is to be there for them in those times of need. "
Mr Finnegan also highlighted the partnership with the National Ambulance Service (NAS) as being a key component in the air ambulance's operation.
"We are proud of our strong relationship with NAS, which has ensured the highest levels of advanced paramedic care is in our helicopter, leading our team.”
IN TIMES OF NEED
A case study shows the importance of the helicopter, with Siobhan O'Riordan recalling the part played by the air ambulance during her own emergency with the ambulance's first patient being her husband, Liam.
The couple were in their home near Millstreet when Liam fell from a ladder. She spoke of the critical care that allowed her husband to make a full recovery.
"The air ambulance landed 50 feet from the house within ten minutes of my first call to 999. It was such a relief to see it landing. You can imagine, in that time of panic and pain, a quick response was crucial.
“Liam was stabilised, his pain was managed and he was seen in the Emergency Department well within an hour of his fall. Normally the journey alone to the hospital by road takes over an hour.
“The air ambulance crew made a terrible situation so much better. I couldn't praise or thank them enough. It's a badly needed service and we feel so lucky it was here when we needed it.