The Irish Community Air Ambulance is asking supporters and businesses to help it Light Up The Sky and sponsor a star to fund lifesaving missions this Christmas. Each donation made through the organisation’s website will light a virtual star, supporters can also leave a message for the crew or light a star in honor of a loved one.
The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is Ireland’s only charity-funded Air Ambulance. It responds to serious incidents and medical emergencies every day of the year, including Christmas Day, from its base in Rathcoole, Co. Cork.
There were 42 taskings during December 2020, including one on Christmas Day. Crews launched 12 times between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve to counties Cork, Clare, Kerry, Limerick and Waterford costing an estimated €42,000.
Each helicopter mission costs an average of €3,500, all of which has to be raised or donated. The HEMS Air Ambulance has been tasked by the National Ambulance Service to 468 incidents so far in 2021. One in five calls has been to cardiac arrests, followed by road traffic collisions and farming incidents. Cork accounts for more than a third of all incidents (37%), followed by Kerry with 23%. Both Tipperary and Clare account for 12% of missions in 2021. Kerry, Tipperary and Clare have all seen an increase in taskings when compared to 2020.
CEO of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, Micheál Sheridan says, “Our team of pilots and National Ambulance Service paramedics will be on standby throughout the holidays. Whilst many of us will be enjoying Christmas Day with family and friends our crew will be away from theirs and will be available to respond if they are required. Our crew and those working in emergency services work tirelessly throughout the year and Christmas is no exception. The cost to run the charity this year is €2.1 million; the HEMS Air Ambulance alone is expected to cost €1.55m this year. By buying a star on our website you are helping us to light up the sky and bring hope to people in emergency situations in our communities this Christmas.”
Chief Pilot Donnagh Verling will be on duty on Christmas Day. He says, “Medical emergencies and other traumas don’t stop because it’s Christmas and neither do we. We’re called to the most serious of incidents including cardiac arrests, road crashes and farming accidents. We’re happy to give up our Christmas Day if it means that we can bring someone to the hospital that best suits their life saving needs faster. We can put a 25,000km2 area within 30 minutes of emergency medical care and will be on standby throughout Christmas to support our colleagues in the National Ambulance Service, the Fire Service and An Garda Siochana.”
The organisation also funds a fleet of Rapid Response Vehicles on the ground in counties like Mayo, Donegal and Dublin. These vehicles are staffed by Volunteer Critical Care Doctors and also by Community based GP’s. They too are tasked by the National Ambulance Service to traumas and medical emergencies within a 40-50km range. The fleet of doctors have been tasked more than 600 times so far this year bringing the total number of missions across the organisation to more than 1,000.
Kieran McGeary, CEO of Cork’s 96FM and C103 is a voluntary Board Member of the Irish Community Air Ambulance. He hopes companies will get involved in the campaign, “As well as individuals, businesses can take part in this great fundraising initiative. What better way to thank employees for their efforts over the last 12 difficult months than buying stars for them? It would be an ideal feel good gift for clients this Christmas too. As well as helping meet your company’s CSR targets, your donation will help to save lives. There’s no better present this Christmas.”
To buy a star or to make a donation visit https://communityairambulance.