Air Ambulance Take-Off a step closer – BREEN

February 3rd, 2012 - Pat Breen

photoSpeaking following the unveiling of the new Sikorsky 92 to the fleet of the CHC (Ireland) Ltd at Shannon Airport; yesterday afternoon (Monday), Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade Pat Breen T.D. said that the provision of an Air Ambulance Service which will include the West Clare Area has now moved a step closer.

“I was delighted to be present for the unveiling ceremony here at Shannon Airport this afternoon and to have the opportunity to address the gathering. This state of the art Sikorsky S92 is a great asset for this Region, it is another first for Shannon Airport and it will be tremendously beneficial for the crews of Rescue 115 here at CHC who are contracted to provide Search and Rescue Aviation Services for the Irish Coast Guard. These experienced and specialist crews at Shannon Airport play a significant role in search and rescue activities throughout this Region and I commend them for their work.”

“The Sikorsky S92 Helicopter is capable of operating in all weather conditions, it is specifically configured for rescue operations; highly versatile and given its internal auxiliary fuel tanks it is capable of travelling extended distances which is also very cost effective.”

“Now that the S92 is available, I believe that it is an opportune time to set up an air ambulance service given that the S92 will have the correct profile to support the HSE in this role. The problem with the Sikorsky 61 N Helicopter was that it was not approved for Air Ambulance Operations due to its limitations.”

“I discussed this possibility with the crews of Rescue 115 yesterday afternoon and they are very excited about this prospect. They are all trained paramedics and they told me that they could lift off from Shannon Airport and travel to assist a seriously ill patient in Kilbaha in West Clare for example within twenty minutes. This would provide tremendous back-up for the paramedics who are already working in the emergency services here in West Clare.”

“The provision of air ambulance services throughout Europe is a common sight. They deliver timely medical care to patients, particularly those who are seriously injured or who require immediate transport to hospital and it is especially useful in cases where patients have to travel long distances or for patients who live in rural areas like West Clare.”

“I have been campaigning for the provision of Air Ambulance Service in West Clare for quite some time and recently I raised the possibility again with the Minister for Health James Reilly T.D. The HSE’s Director of the National Ambulance Service Robert Morton has informed me that discussions have taken place between both the HSE and the Irish Coast Guard Service and that while the operational timescale for the new helicopter is the responsibility of the IRCG that the HSE envisage June 2012 as the potential start of the new service.”

“Speaking to the crews at Shannon Airport yesterday afternoon, I understand that this timescale is achievable given that following a period of intensive training they expect that the S92 will be operational in June.

“I also understand that at present the IRCG respond to calls from the HSE in respect of “Life or Death” circumstances or in the case of emergency transfers. When the new service is up and running it will be on the basis of “as and when available”

“The delivery of the new S92 Helicopter shows that this Government is committed to funding our search and rescue services. It also shows that the Government is anxious to have this state of art equipment available in this area, in order that the IRCG services can be extended to include the provision of an Air Ambulance service, which is very good news for West Clare.”