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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘You don’t want it to be our air ambulance’ – farm safety appeal

The Irish Community Air Ambulance and Macra na Feirme have launched a joint campaign to appeal to rural communities to exercise care as activity in rural Ireland increases during the summer months.

A busy silage season increased traffic on the roads, and more children moving about farms combine to present an increased likelihood of serious incidents that could result in the Irish Community Air Ambulance being tasked to rural locations.

Statistics from the Community Air Ambulance show that the summer months are the busiest for the heli-med service, with the highest number of callouts during 2020 occurring in July.

38 farming-related taskings so far

According to data, road traffic accidents account for the most incidents. Farm accidents and falls from heights requiring a regular response from the Millstreet-based service.

There have been 38 farming-related taskings so far in 2021. These include incidents involving PTO, machinery, falls from heights and animal attacks.

In total, the service has responded to 233 calls since the start of the year.

Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford are the counties most likely to require the air ambulance. Besides, the helicopter was also tasked in 2021 to counties Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow and Galway.

The Community Air Ambulance and Macra na Feirme have launched a social media campaign to highlight that while the service is available to those in need, exercising care and engaging in best practice can dramatically reduce the risk of incident.

‘Not every accident will result in death’

John Keane, President of Macra na Feirme, “Summer brings with it some of the busiest times on Irish farms, with silage season coinciding with a lot of outdoor activities.”

“Farmers are aware of the many dangers on-farm and always endeavour to ensure these risks are mitigated. However, we know that accidents are going to happen in the weeks ahead. We are appealing to people living in rural Ireland to stop and think about what they are doing and whether it is safe.”

“Not every accident will result in death, but many cause serious injury and all cause disruption. We are grateful that the Irish Community Air Ambulance service can respond, but the question for farmers is simple. How would you feel if it had to land in one of your fields?”

The Irish Community Air Ambulance works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service and is within 30 minutes flying time of any location in Munster.

Think of risk before you go about your day

CEO of the Community Air Ambulance Michéal Sheridan says, “Our crew is ready to respond to every call, but we see from our taskings last summer that June and July are amongst our busiest months.”

“As a rule, we are only ever called to the most serious incidents where patients have suffered significant trauma.”

“Our message to farmers, in conjunction with Macra na Feirme, is to please think of risk as they go about their day. Our message is simple. Irish farms are a great place to land a helicopter – you just don’t want it to be our air ambulance.”

Cultural change towards farm safety

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon TD. Minister Heydon has also given the campaign support.

“I would like to thank the Irish Community Air Ambulance and Macra na Feirme for undertaking this campaign, which chimes very much with the Government’s ‘Be Summer Ready’ campaign.”

“Now is an important time to remind farmers and all those who may visit farms of the need to be aware of all the risks.”

“Tragically, every year farming accounts for over 40% of all fatal workplace incidents nationwide. It is time for a cultural change towards farm safety, where we all play our part in driving down the unacceptably high levels of farm safety incidents. So, please remember: plan a safe silage season.”

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