30/04/2004

Helicopter ambulance feasibility study published

Health Minister, Angela Smith, and her Irish counterpart, Micheál Martin, today announced the publication of a study on the feasibility of an all-Ireland helicopter ambulance service.

The Report concluded that the tertiary role may be the most appropriate in an all-island context.

The Report identified three possible roles for a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS):
  • Primary Response – travelling directly to the scene of an incident to take the patient to hospital
  • Secondary Response – meeting a ground ambulance to speed up the patient’s journey to a hospital
  • Tertiary Response – the planned, rapid transfer between hospitals of patients requiring specialist care, escorted by skilled professionals


Ms Smith said: “This study will make an important contribution to the debate on the future development of pre-hospital emergency care North and South.

“My Department is already working closely with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the four Health and Social Services Boards to improve ambulance services in terms of speed, appropriateness of response and clinical quality. Our strategic priority is to improve 999 response times over the next few years, especially in remote and isolated rural communities.

“Actions already in the pipeline include upgrading control and communication systems, enhancing the clinical skills of ambulance crews, deploying ambulances more effectively, and introducing a systematic fleet replacement programme.”

The two Health Departments commissioned the Feasibility Study under the aegis of the North South Ministerial Council.

(MB)

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