Midlands-based Air Ambulance celebrates 10th birthday

A special celebration is due to take place at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel today (Wednesday) to mark the 10th anniversary of the Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS), which is based in Athlone’s Custume Barracks.

Serving and retired personnel who have worked with the air ambulance service will be present at the celebration, which gets underway at 2pm, along with a number of patients and their families who have availed of the EAS over the last decade.

Also in attendance will be The Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy and the General Officer Commanding Air Corps, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor.

Since it was originally set up on June 4, 2012, for a 12 month trial period, the EAS has become a vital asset in terms of critical pre-hospital care. To date the service has airlifted over 3,500 patients in need of critical medical intervention.

The EAS is a joint project between the HSE and the Defence Forces which sees Air Corps flight crews work alongside National Ambulance Service Advance Paramedics in a dedicated military helicopter for the rapid transfer of critical patients to the most appropriate hospital.

The aim of the service at the outset was to assess the level and type of dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) required in Ireland in light of closures of regional facilities such as Roscommon Hospital's A&E Department.

The service's helicopter crew consists of both Defence Forces personnel and an ambulance service advanced paramedic, and it remains on call seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The service's 'AirCorps112' helicopter is an AW139 twin‐engine, multi‐role machine, flown with a crew of two pilots and a crewman.

When configured for Emergency Aeromedical Service, it can accommodate an array of medical equipment, including oxygen, suction and defibrillator, several attending medics and a patient.

The AW139 is the fastest helicopter in its class, capable of travelling at 315 km per hour, allowing “AirCorps112” to reach anywhere in the country, and deliver patients to an appropriate hospital within minutes.