The Irish Community Air Ambulance has taken delivery of a Leonardo 109S helicopter.
According to the charity, it is the world’s fastest civilian helicopter and is ideally suited to providing a rural Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).
The charity heli-med service has responded to almost 1,000 incidents from its base in Rathcoole, County Cork, since its establishment in July 2019.
Cardiac arrests account for the most incidents so far this year, followed by road traffic collisions and farming accidents.
The new aircraft, which will go into full service from tomorrow (Thursday), offers:
- Firstly, more speed;
- Greater patient comfort;
- Also, has the capacity to take on more fuel, increasing endurance and range.
The helicopter can travel up to 300 kilometres per hour. It can fly the length of the country from Mizen to Malin Head in a little over 90 minutes. The same journey would take 8 hours by road.
Irish Community Air Ambulance Chief Executive Mícheál Sheridan says: “We are often called to the most serious of incidents.”
“In these situations where you’re dealing with a critical patient, the small gains can have the greatest benefit to the patient’s comfort and outcomes.”
“This new helicopter offers more speed, but it also has additional room at the rear. That means that we can transport adult patients more comfortably. We also have space for an additional medic on board, if necessary.”
The Community Air Ambulance works in tandem with the National Ambulance Service and brings patients to the hospital that best suits their life-saving needs.
The Mater Hospital in Dublin and Cork University Hospital (CUH) are the two major centres for providing trauma care in Ireland.
Sheridan added: “In recent weeks, we’ve airlifted seriously ill patients to both CUH and the Mater during one shift.”
“That highlights the speed and versatility of our service. We’re also called upon to transport paediatric emergency cases to Temple Street Children’s Hospital.”
“Our new helicopter has more space for the parents of children who may need to be transferred over long distances to Dublin and will be able to get them there that bit faster. However, the new aircraft also means additional costs.”
The Air Ambulance is expected to cost €1.55m to run this year and relies entirely on fundraising. Each mission costs an average of €3,500.
“We need donations and support to help us go further faster,” he concluded.