The air ambulance service based in Custume Barracks, Athlone is to be extended until March, pending a decision on its long-term future.
Deputy Nicky McFadden said she received confirmation from Minister for Health James Reilly and Minister for Defence Alan Shatter that the Emergency Aeromedical Support (EAS ) is to be extended until March 2014, “pending decisions on how best to proceed following consideration of the report’s recommendations”.
A report on the service was completed in July, and a group was established to examine how best to implement the report’s recommendations, which included the permanent establishment of the EAS and the potential for expanding the service countrywide.
The service came into operation in May 2012 as a joint initiative of the Air Corps and the HSE, initially for a pilot period of 12 months, and has since been extended on a number of occasions. It provides dedicated aeromedical support to the ambulance service, specifically where land ambulance transit times would not be clinically appropriate.
Deputy Denis Naughten says clarification is needed on the future of the service.
“We need urgent clarification. The service needs to not only be maintained but enhanced to provide a service on a 24-hour basis,” he said.
The air ambulance service answered a total of 527 call-outs in 2013 including one on Christmas day