Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (277)

Denis Naughten

Question:

277. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Defence his plans to expand the role of the Air Corps air ambulance service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2960/21]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Air Corps provides a broad range of services in accordance with its primary security and defence role. It also undertakes a diverse range of non-security-related tasks on an ‘as available’ basis including the provision of air ambulance services to the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The HSE’s Aeromedical Desk in its National Emergency Operations Centre is responsible for the co-ordination of all health-related air transport arrangements. In addition to the Air Corps, the Irish Coast Guard and private air ambulance operators also provide air transport services for the HSE.

The Air Corps’ inter-hospital service operates out of Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. This service provides transport for patients and medical teams primarily between hospitals within Ireland and the UK. In 2020, the Air Corps completed a total of 48 inter-hospital missions, 33 of which were to the UK , including one priority transfer. 5 missions were outside of the agreed Service Level Agreement whereby the Air Corps provided the requested air transport of patients to or from mainland Europe.

The Air Corps also operates the Emergency Aeromedical Support (EAS) Service. It is a daily, day-time service based out of Custume Barracks, Athlone. Since the commencement of this service in June 2012, the Air Corps has completed over 3,000 missions with 366 missions completed during 2020.

The EAS and inter-hospital services are good examples of the Air Corps and HSE combining their resources to deliver life-saving services for the people of Ireland. There are no plans to change the current operation of the aeromedical services based out of Baldonnel or Custume Barracks, Athlone.