Varadkar announces permanent Air Ambulance

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The Ministers for Defence and Health, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar, have announced the establishment of the Emergency Aeromedical Support Service on a permanent basis.  This very valuable service ensures that seriously ill or injured people in remoter areas have timely access to appropriate high quality clinical care.

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Air Corps have operated the service on a pilot basis since mid-2012.  The Irish Coast Guard provides back up support.  The EAS has completed over 1,055 missions to date including 323 STEMI heart attack patients, who must get to a primary PCI lab within 90 minutes for effective treatment.  The service is targeted mainly at western counties.

A cross sectoral working group has examined ways to provide a permanent dedicated service.  Both Ministers have considered the Group’s report, and it has been agreed to establish a permanent service continuing the current service model.  However, they have committed to an ongoing review of the operation, so as to ensure a sustainable, long term service arrangement.

Minister Varadkar said: “I’m delighted that the Government has agreed to put the Emergency Aeromedical Support Service on a permanent footing. It’s a great example of co-operation across Government and it shows what can be achieved by using existing resources, even following a deep financial crisis. The service has been great for patients and ensures that those in remoter areas, particularly in the west, have timely access to specialised treatment available in the larger hospitals.  A third of the missions were in response to STEMI heart attacks, allowing patients to be treated in a specialist setting within 90 minutes of diagnosis. The collaboration between the NAS and Air Corps has been quite remarkable.”

Minister Coveney said: “I welcome the establishment of a permanent EAS service and the ongoing support to the National Ambulance Service by the Defence Forces in providing such a valuable service to people in rural communities. The professionalism and commitment of the Air Corps in providing a dedicated helicopter service to date has been exemplary. I know that level of dedication will continue into the future as the service is placed on a sustainable footing’’.