Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (280)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

280. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health the action he will take to ensure that the air ambulance service does not close for a period of 16 days or for a period of time in view of the crucial role it plays in saving lives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48649/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Emergency Aeromedical Support (EAS) provides rapid access to appropriate treatment for very high acuity patients, specifically where land ambulance transit times would not be clinically appropriate. The service is particularly beneficial for time-dependent cardiovascular patients who constitute about one third of all EAS missions.

EAS services are provided primarily by the Air Corps with reserve capacity provided by the Irish Coast Guard.  The service operates seven days a week in daylight hours and is specifically targeted at the West. The highest demand for the EAS comes from Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, and the service has successfully completed over 2,600 emergency missions since it commenced operations in 2012.

The Air Corps is not in a position to accept EAS taskings from the National Ambulance Service for four days per month for a period of four months, from November 2019 to February 2020. During the 16 days when the Air Corps will not accept taskings, the Irish Coast Guard will provide reserve cover for the National Ambulance Service. The Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), has agreed to provide additional cover using a second helicopter which will be based in Roscommon Hospital and will be tasked in the usual way, to 112/999 calls by the National Emergency Operations Centre, within the National Ambulance Service.  This is in line with current National Ambulance Service priorities whereby the most appropriate and safe services are provided for patients and staff. 

This does not affect the current Munster Hems service in the South of Ireland.