ICRR Air Ambulance. (Picture: Paul Daly)

Ireland’s new charity Air Ambulance service to be grounded in 5 days unless it receives lifeline to stay flying

The fate of the ICRR Air Ambulance is in jeopardy, unless €400,000 is secured by Friday, in order to keep the service live and airborne to lifesaving missions across Ireland.

The charity, Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), has raised almost €700,000 to date for its Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), and is asking for further support through its fundraising Go Fund Me page ‘Keep the ICRR Air Ambulance Flying’.

These funds, alongside website donations at www.icrr.ie and recent fundraising events, have raised just over €30,000 since news broke last week about the impending grounding of the vital lifesaving Air Ambulance.

ICRR Operations Manager Ruth Bruton said: “We planned for 350 missions in our first 12 months based on mission figure from the State funded Aer Corps Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) in 2018, which saw them carry out 310 missions.

“In a little over 5 months, we have flown over 270 missions which raises our estimates to 600 possible lifesaving missions per year. With our increased demand, we need support now more than ever.”

The Aer Corps EAS service operating from Athlone, is said to receive State funding of approximately €2.6million euro per year for the provision of its service.

In the current programme for Government, it is noted of the necessity for an Air Ambulance for the South of the country. The ICRR Air Ambulance is provided free to the State and is tasked as part of a national framework for emergency medical response.

Currently, this is solely funded through charitable donations and in 2020, ICRR will have to pay the State VAT to the tune of hundreds of thousands of Euro for this free service.

Ms Bruton adds: “The ICRR Air Ambulance has had phenomenal support from the public to date, which we are very grateful for, but we need even more support from the public to keep this service live. Please donate now at www.icrr.ie or through the special Go Fund Me page, ‘Keep the ICRR Air Ambulance Flying’”.

One recent user of the service commented: “On our annual family holiday, our son had a 25ft fall and was in need of rapid medical help. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the ICRR Air Ambulance service in rural areas, as it is the difference between life and death. Our son thankfully made a full recovery after being airlifted by the ICRR Air Ambulance rapidly to the hospital that best served his needs.

“This service needs the full support of the people of Ireland, as this is an invaluable service and we thank the men and women of the ICRR Air Ambulance for giving their time to help us when we needed it the most”.

The ICRR Air Ambulance, a HEMS service, is run in partnership between the charity, and the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS), who provide the medical crew. NAS tasks the service through 112 / 999 calls to its National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).

However, the helicopter, pilots, air-base insurance and fuel are 100% funded through donations to the charity, ICRR.