Published on February 13th, 2023 | by Gabriel Desmond0
New Helicopters for “Helimed 92”
The helicopter air ambulance service operating from Rathcoole, Co Cork, is changing hands.
Two EC135s of Maltese Gulf Med Aviation Services are replacing the two A109s supplied by Sloane Helicopters of England. The air ambulance service began in 2019 when the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR), a community funded charity, launched the “Helimed 92” service with the support of the National Ambulance Service. Last year the Health Service Executive (HSE) decided to fund the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and requested tenders from across Europe.
Rural Rathcoole is a central location for serving the South West of Ireland, but the helicopter can operate to any location within the state. One EC135 is provided, with a second machine available as a backup. The registrations are 9H-SEB and -SEC. They will take over from the A109s on 28 February 2023. The new service switches from an originally charity-funded basis to a HSE fully state-funded one. The annual contract is expected to run for two years. The red EC135s carry yellow HSE and National Ambulance Service logos.
In 2021 the ICRR became the Irish Community Air Ambulance (ICAA). Their joint HEMS bid with Sloane Helicopters last year was not successful. They will rebrand as a new charity to be known as “Cri+ical” and expand their ground-based network of volunteer emergency medical responders countrywide.
Since the air ambulance was first launched in 2019 its A109s have been tasked by the National Ambulance service to over 1,500 serious incidents and emergencies, mostly in Munster, a fitting tribute to its crews and voluntary donors. No doubt the new State-funded EC135s and their crews will continue this valuable community service.