Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (622)

Brendan Griffin


622. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health his plans for air ambulances here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9581/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, there is a significant cost associated with providing aeromedical support to emergency services. In the Irish context, there is no existing data to establish what that cost might be or the level of need for such a service.

The absence of data for aeromedical support in the Irish context indicated the need for a pilot project, in order to assess the type and extent of service, if any, that might be required to support the National Ambulance Service (NAS). In cooperation with my colleague Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, the Emergency Aeromedical Service, was initiated as a trial service in June of 2012, to gather this information and it will run for 12 months.

In current conditions, it is prudent to maximise the use of state resources wherever possible. Accordingly, the trial project is being operated from within existing resources. It involves the Irish Air Corps providing aeromedical support to the NAS, from Custume Barracks, Athlone, with flight and maintenance personnel. The NAS is responsible for patient care, which is provided by advanced paramedics. Assessment of the trial will inform future policy direction, and in the event that a decision is made to provide this type of service, how best to proceed operationally.