Written Answers. - Emergency Services.

Bernard Allen

Question:

505 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps that are being taken to provide a helicopter emergency medical service. [19236/00]

Denis Naughten

Question:

621 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in discussions with interested parties relating to the establishment of a helicopter emergency medical service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20363/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 505 and 621 together.

The provision of an air ambulance service for emergency cases which cannot be safely conveyed by road ambulance is provided by the Air Corps and the marine search and rescue helicopter service of the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources. Proposals for the development of a dedicated air ambulance service fall to be considered in the wider context of developments in emergency medical services generally.

It is important to acknowledge that the development of emergency medical services encompass all areas of emergency care including the ambulance service, general practice and hospitals' accident and emergency departments. The potential benefits of a dedicated air ambulance service must, therefore, be examined in the context of the improvements to emergency medical services generally and I am anxious to ensure the development of a consensus in an Irish context of the most appropriate role for air support in the provision of pre-hospital care and inter-hospital transfer. I have personally held initial discussions in this matter recently with interested parties and I propose to have further discussions in the near future. I am also seeking the views of the pre-hospital emergency care council.