Image: Minister Coveney and Minister Varadkar speaking to the media this morning (Republic of Ireland Government)
Irish Defence Minister Simon Coveney and Health Minister Leo Varadkar announced the establishment of a permanent Emergency Aeromedical Support Service (EAS) on 15 July.
The National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Air Corps have operated the service on a pilot basis since mid-2012, with the Irish Coast Guard providing back-up support. During that time, it completed over 1,055 missions, including 323 STEMI heart attack patients.
Following on from a report from a cross sectoral working group, it has been agreed to continue with the current service model. Minister Coveney noted that the service will be reviewed ‘every two to three years’.
Varadkar commented: “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’’.