Published on May 21st, 2020 | by Alan Dwyer0
Air Ambulance Charity raises funds to continue operating
The Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), who operate Ireland’s first charitably funded Air Ambulance, has issued a statement thanking the public for all the support during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will ensure the lifesaving Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) can continue to save lives. In Recent weeks, numerous donations and virtual fundraisers has enabled the return to a 7-day operation from 1st June. The service had operated a 5-day only service due to cost saving measures put in place earlier this year after the unprecedented amount of missions and COVID-19 put financial pressure on the service.
Operations Manager, Ruth Bruton said: “A return to 7-days service has been a huge focus for the ICRR team and we are thrilled to finally see this critically needed Air Ambulance be where it should be; in the air when we need it most . We sincerely thank the public for making this possible. However, the ongoing challenge of keeping it there is our priority and continued support from those than can give is vital. Every mission counts, so every donation counts too.”
Since commencing operations in July 2019, over 383 missions have been flown in just 9 months. Recently the service was tasked to a serious medical emergency in rural Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork. A much-loved member of the O’Neill family suffered anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) and needed immediate lifesaving care. The O’Neill family chose to express their gratitude to the ICRR Air Ambulance crew by starting a Go Fund Me page to raise vital funds to help others in their greatest time of need. The site, https://www.gofundme.com/f/irish-community-rapid-response, already has over €9000 and counting. Mrs. O’Neill said “I’m so grateful to ICRR for saving my life. Without the ICRR Air Ambulance and local Ambulance we as a family, could have had a vastly different outcome that day. We want to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining this vital service. My husband and I are overwhelmed by the generosity of our family, friends and the public”.
Innovative fundraising in the face of the pandemic restrictions has been a huge lifeline for the service, with fundraising ideas like ‘Duhallow’s Fittest Club’ pitting 23 GAA clubs in the North Cork area of Duhallow against each other in a bid to raise funds for local charities including the ICRR Air Ambulance. This fundraiser has raised almost €35,000 on their Go Fund Me page and the event is in its final days, as the 23rd May sees a tie-breaker between Ballydesmond and Kiskeam GAA clubs who will go head-to-head for the title. Organiser, Sean Linehan said “We chose the ICRR Air Ambulance as we see it as a vital service, not only for the Duhallow area, but for the entire Munster region. Participants were delighted to get some fun exercise in whilst also help raise vital funds. Some age-old rivalries also surfaced of course, but it was all very much well natured!”. Ms. Bruton also said: ““From myself and all the ICRR crew we are so grateful for the outpouring of support and donations from people across Ireland, we sincerely thank each and every person who answered our call. The online community spirit by way of donations and showing support with beautifully drawn pictures being posted to our crews has made this difficult time an easier journey. It’s been overwhelming and incredibly uplifting to see so many people understand the necessity of this service for our communities. The O’Neill family fundraiser is just one of many fundraisers that have ensured another lifesaving mission is possible.”