Local TD Denis Naughten has reiterated his call that any new air ambulance service must be based in the Midlands and not along the coast in either Dublin or Galway.
“The Minister for Health is about to decide on who is to operate a new air ambulance service in the coming days and the big fear is that this service could be based in Galway, which would run contrary to the objectives of such a service,” stated Denis Naughten.
“Galway is already designated as a regional trauma centre with its A&E equipped to deal with major road accidents so it does not make any sense to also base the air ambulance beside such a hospital.
“The coast guard will also have the capability at its four bases to provide a part-time air ambulance service as it replaces its existing fleet of helicopters this year, so it makes far more sense to complement their availability with a dedicated air ambulance based in the midlands.”
Deputy Naughten, who has been campaigning for an air ambulance service for over a decade, added: “The two possible locations in the midlands are Roscommon Town – as proposed by Roscommon Hospital Action committee – or at Custume Barracks if the service is to be run by the air corps.”
There is growing speculation that Minister for Health Dr James Reilly is expected to confirm soon that the Air Corps will operate Ireland’s first dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (air ambulance).
“The coasts of Ireland already have all of the designated A&E facilities to cater for serious accidents, with the coast guard now being made available to provide a partial air ambulance service, so it makes little sense to also base the only dedicated air ambulance on the coast.
“While such a service will never replace an A&E department, the fact is that the majority of those departments that have closed or are about to close can be more readily serviced by a base in the midlands than one based in either Galway or Dublin,” concluded Denis Naughten.