Ireland’s first charitably funded Air Ambulance operated by Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) and staffed by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) medical personnel is to be grounded indefinitely this coming Friday – due to lack of funds.

The service has flown over 351 missions in just under eight months since it began operating the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.

“We are incredibly upset that lives will be lost due to the grounding of this service at this time, especially given how vital frontline medical support is during the COVID-19 pandemic and how incredibly successful the service has been to date,” Operations Manager for the charity, Ruth Bruton said.

ICRR had already implemented harsh cost cutting measures in an effort to continue, which included the laying off of non-essential staff, cutting hours of current staff and the already introduced five-day operational week.

“Our sincere thanks to the people of Ireland who supported this service and kept it flying for the last eight months, you have all been part of a community that has saved hundreds of lives and impacted many, many families. We could not have gotten off the ground without every single person who donated money, gave their time to fundraise or share our mission.”

All fundraising avenues have been extinguished due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a last resort, ICRR immediately sought interim support from Government, however, they have yet to receive correspondence from them about interim supports to keep this vital frontline service flying as cardiac arrests, strokes, farming accidents and road traffic collisions still occur amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board at ICRR are distraught at having to cease operations and withdraw this frontline service during the current crisis, she added.