Response by the Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence to the
Topical Issues Debate Dáil Éireann, 20 June 2012
Topic: Emergency Aeromedical Service helicopter incident
The need for the Minister for Defence to outline the circumstances surrounding the crash of the Air Corps Aeromedical ambulance based at Custume Barracks
- Deputy Denis Naughten
Check Against Delivery
As the Deputy will be aware, a 12 month pilot Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS), in support of the Health Service Executive National Ambulance Service, commenced operations on 4 June, 2012.
The service is operated by the Air Corps out of Custume Barracks, Athlone. The purpose of the pilot is to determine the extent, if any, of the need for dedicated aeromedical support to emergency ambulances in the region, in light of existing road networks and transit times.
The service is intended to support the requirements of HSE Clinical Care Programmes such as Acute Coronary Syndrome and Stroke. In geograpical terms the primary focus of the service is on the west and northwest of the country. However, the service can on occasion respond to incidents elsewhere, where aeromedical assistance is an appropriate response, given the circumstances of the incident.
From the 4th of June to date, eleven aeromedical missions have been undertaken.
As the Deputy is aware, an incident involving the EAS helicopter occurred yesterday afternoon, 19th June. The helicopter, an EC 135, departed Custume Barracks, Athlone at 13.50 en route to an emergency call out in Co. Tipperary. At approximately 14.10 the helicopter was forced to perform a heavy landing near Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary.
Thankfully, the two Air Corps crew and one HSE paramedic onboard were uninjured and the patient who was subject to the call-out was transferred to hospital by road. The helicopter has been removed from the site of the incident and is now back in Baldonnel but the extent of damage to the helicopter is yet to be determined.
The Air Accident Investigation Unit in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport was informed of the incident immediately and the Unit was in attendance at the site last evening. The Air Accident Investigation Unit will carry out an investigation into the incident.
At present the Air Corps are examining the likelihood of resuming the EAS service as soon as possible using an AW 139 aircraft out of Baldonnel. At this stage it is not possible to say when the service will resume from Custume Barracks, Athlone. Following a preliminary investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Unit this matter will receive further consideration.
It should be emphasised that the Emergency Aeromedical Service is a separate service to the Air Ambulance Service provided by the Air Corps to the Health Service Executive for inter-hospital transfer of patients with serious injuries and for organ retrieval missions. This service is unaffected by this incident.