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State funding as charity expands on the ground efforts

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By Sean Moriarty

Ireland's Community Air Ambulance service is to get Government funding for the first time ever since its foundation.

The team behind the Irish Community Air Ambulance is to step back from providing a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and will focus on its on-the-ground team of volunteer doctors and drivers.

The helicopter element of its services will be taken over by a Government agency - and as a result the organisation will change its name to CRITICAL.

The charity will continue to provide the Air Ambulance until February 28 and will then pass the baton to the new State-funded HEMS service based in the South West.

The charity will then focus on expanding its network of Volunteer Emergency Medical Responders into more communities across the country.

The charity was established in 2009 as the Irish Community Rapid Response, and in 2019 it successfully launched Ireland’s first and only charity Air Ambulance.

Since then, it has been tasked to more than 1,500 serious incidents and emergencies.

The charity has a fleet of Rapid Response Vehicles which have facilitated Critical Care Doctors and experienced GPs to respond to more than 1,800 incidents since 2020 alone.

Their teams are already on the ground in counties Mayo, Donegal and Dublin, with additional volunteer doctors set to join them in Kildare, Dublin, Wicklow and Waterford in the coming months.

“The Irish Community Air Ambulance was established by our charity in 2019 in response to what we knew was a need for a HEMS service in the south west of Ireland. We have consistently shown how vital the service is, so much so that it is now set to be fully funded by the State,” Micheál Sheridan, CEO of CRITICAL, said.

“We would like to thank all of those who helped keep HeliMed92 flying for the past couple of years and the HSE for its support over the last 10 months. We will now focus our efforts on our ground based Volunteer Emergency Medical Response initiative and bring Critical and Advanced levels of care to more communities across Ireland, both rural and urban.”

CRITICAL will work closely with the National Ambulance Service and has a number of Volunteer Emergency Medicine Doctors and Volunteer Emergency Medical Responders around the country. These volunteers are tasked by the National Ambulance Service to support the provision of pre-hospital emergency care to critically ill and injured patients in their local communities.

“We’re excited to focus on our network of volunteer critical and advanced care doctors. We have plans to expand this network and are already working with the National Ambulance Service in this regard. Our ground teams responded to more than 1,800 incidents over the last three years alone, working in partnership with the emergency services to give people the very best chance of survival when they find themselves seriously ill or injured,” added Mr Sheridan.

The charity has a fleet of Rapid Response Vehicles which have facilitated Critical Care Doctors and experienced GPs to respond to more than 1,800 incidents since 2020 alone. Their teams are already on the ground in counties Mayo, Donegal and Dublin, with additional volunteer doctors set to join them in Kildare, Dublin, Wicklow and Waterford in the coming months.

RESOURCES

In 2022 the charity’s resources were tasked to a total of 1,000 calls. Road Traffic Collisions and Cardiac Arrests accounted for almost half of all incidents.

The organisation will fundraise to kit out its volunteers so they can continue their life-saving work.

It costs an average of €25,000 to establish an Advanced Level Volunteer Doctor in the community; and €120,000 to put a new Critical Care Response Vehicle on the road.

The charity will be launching a new website in the coming weeks, in the meantime visit communityairambulance.ie or its social media channels for updates.

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Muckross Rowing Club members on Irish teams for two major regattas

  Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events. Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse […]

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Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events.

Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta.

Daniel Fleming and Ian Coffey have both been selected for the Under 19 Irish squad to race at the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta for European junior rowers. The Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta, involving 16 European countries, will be held over from over three days, August 9-11 in Racice, Czechia.

Four Under 23 university rowers from the Muckross club have also been selected as part of the Senior Irish squad for the Home International Regatta this month.

Niamh Coffey (University of Limerick), Patrick Buckley (University of Limerick), Finn O’Sullivan (University of Limerick) and Ethan O’Neill (University College Cork Rowing Club) will take on the ‘Triple Crown’ event of rowing, competing for Ireland against crews from England, Scotland and Wales.

The Home International Regatta will be held on Saturday, July 27 in Strathclyde, Scotland.

All six Muckross rowers have earned their green jerseys following a lengthy and testing trial series on land and water which began in Autumn 2023 and culminated in final water trials at the end of June.

“Muckross Rowing Club sends its best wishes to the very talented Muckross oarsmen and women and all their crewmates as they fly the flag for Ireland this summer. The talented group build on a successful record in the sport,” said club PRO Tim O’Shea.

Niamh Coffey is a multiple Irish and University Championship winner and has previously represented Ireland in the Under 23 European Championships.

In 2022, O’Neill rowed at Junior level at the Home International event and won a gold medal as part of the Irish quadruple scull crew in the 500m sprint event.

Both Buckley and O’Sullivan continue to compete at the highest level nationally with the University of Limerick Rowing Club,  and join the Irish squad for the first time this year.

The international selections come at an exciting time before the Olympic Regatta in Paris, where Zoe Hyde (Tralee Rowing Club) will be among the largest Irish rowing contingent of 16 rowers to contest an Olympic Games.

Killorglin native Zoe has previously rowed for both Killorglin and Muckross rowing clubs and will race the Women’s Double event for Ireland with Alison Bergin (Fermoy Rowing Club) in Paris.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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