Published on April 1st, 2015 | by Jim Lee0
Still no final decision on a permanent Emergency Aeromedical Support (EAS) service
We may have been a bit premature in our piece published on 25th February when we said that a “final decision on Emergency Aeromedical Support (EAS) service was imminent”. Well that’s what we had been led to believe! In June 2012 a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed between the Department of Defence and the Department of Health in relation to Air Corps’ participation in a one year pilot EAS service operating out of Custume Barracks, Athlone, and a final decision has yet to be made. After repeated extensions of the original one year pilot service to allow the preparation of a report by a Working Group, set up by the Minister for Health to consider how best to provide a permanent EAS service, and more recently for the consideration of that report.
It has been confirmed that the Department of Defence has agreed to extend the Air Corps’ role in the pilot service to 3rd June 2015 while the report is being considered by the Minister for Health. The pilot service also allowed the assessment of the level and type, if any, of dedicated aeromedical support needed to assist the National Ambulance Service, primarily in the west of Ireland for certain types of patients. However given that the Working Group, chaired by the Department of Health had representatives the Department of Health and Social Services, Northern Ireland, as well as from Department of Defence and the HSE an all Ireland service in some form was being considered. The pilot nevertheless focused on the requirements of the HSE Clinical Care Programmes, such as Acute Coronary Care and Stroke.
In our previous report, we reported that from the commencement of the pilot EAS service on 4th June 2012 to 31st October 2014, the Air Corps had completed a total of 816 EAS missions. According to Department of Defence figures, there were a further 40 completed missions up to the end of 2014 and 24 up until the 31st January 2015, making a total of 880. For the 2014 calendar year (1st January to 31st December 2014) there were 353 completed missions.
Additional information provided by the Air Corps shows that there has been a total of 86 aeromedical taskings in 2015 up to 24th March 2015 (you can find out more about the courses that include these taskings). In addition to the pilot EAS service, since 2005, there has been a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the Department of Defence and the Department of Health, which formalised the arrangements for the provision of an inter hospital air ambulance service by the Air Corps. Again up to 24th March, 17 inter-hospital air ambulances were completed, including three in the proceeding 36 hours, with one from Baldonnel to Cambridge.
2014 was also a busy year for air ambulance missions by the Air Corps with over 100 air ambulance missions, including 64 national and 47 international transfers of patients completed. The Air Corps’ unique ability to conduct multiple mission using fixed wing and rotary wing assets meant that there were several days in 2014 when numerous air ambulances were completed at the same time.