Working group’s report on making air ambulance service permanent expected to be with Minister shortly – McFadden

* Air ambulance carries out 652 time critical missions since its launch two years ago

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has been informed by the Department of Health that the working group looking at the establishment of a permanent air ambulance service at Custume Barracks has virtually finished its deliberations and that a report will go to the Health Minister in the next few weeks.

“During his visit to Athlone last month, Minister Reilly confirmed that plans are in place to retain this important service along with developing an additional cross-border service to extend the scope of the service.

“A review of this Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) already carried out last year confirmed the need for a permanent service and this special group is now almost ready to submit its report to Minister Reilly with proposals on how this helicopter service will operate on a permanent footing.

“Recent EAS data, recorded up to May 2014, also reveals that the helicopter carried out 652 time critical missions since its launch in the summer of 2012. This equates to one life-saving task a week since its launch in Custume Barracks two years ago.

“Significantly, almost a half of the taskings completed (316) have been for STEMIs, a type of serious heart attack where a coronary artery is completely blocked. Forty of the missions also involved emergency incidents involving children.

“Since the EAS’ launch, the service has operated 7 days a week, responding quickly to emergencies where patients needing rapid access to acute services in larger hospitals will be transported quickly to receive the appropriate medical care.

“Clearly, the service has been a tremendous success since its inception and I hope that the service will be made permanent as soon as possible.”