34 of the 168 callouts which required an airlift to hospital by the charity Community Air Ambulance last year resulted in patients being transferred to University Hospital Limerick.
The service was tasked to 512 missions in 14 counties during 2021, its busiest year since the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Air Ambulance launched in July 2019. There were 490 taskings in 2020 with each mission costing an average of €3,500, all of which has to be raised or donated.
Despite an increasing need for its services, the North Cork-based service still remain Ireland’s only charity-funded air ambulance.
Chief executive Micheál Sheridan said that they engaged with the Government and regional political leaders throughout 2021 to secure some State support for the vital service.
“The HSE is releasing funding to private ambulance firms to provide support during the continuing crisis, yet the Irish Community Air Ambulance is still entirely funded by public donations.
“The increased number of taskings during 2021 show that we provide a vital service. The cost to run the charity during 2022 is expected to be €2.1 million, which is a significant amount of money to raise.
“We are so grateful to all our supporters who help us to bring hope to those in emergency situations, but we will continue to engage with the Government to provide funding during these uncertain times,” Mr Sheridan added.
Cardiac arrests accounted for 20 per cent of callouts for the ambulance last year with one in every three callouts last year involved an airlift to hospital.