Ireland recently saw its first community air ambulance service. It is expected to operate full time by the end of next month. The air ambulance service is slated to provide coverage to a population spread over 10 thousand square miles, answer 500 emergencies a year and bring critical care to this population within 20 minutes. The service is being run by Irish Community Rapid Response, which itself is a hospital that depends on charity. The initiative has the support of the government and will be integrated into the country’s emergency medical services. However, several international medical communities have raised concerns about this initiative.
The Concerns Surrounding the Air Ambulance Service
The air ambulance service is going to be paramedic-led and will not have doctors employed among its crew members. Experts in the field of Helicopter Emergency Medical Service or HEMS from developed nations such as Norway, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States have raised concerns about this move. They have opined that the air ambulance service will fall short of being an emergency room on the air, as it would lack expertise that is needed to save a limb or life in certain situations, owing to the absence of doctors.
The Response of the Air Ambulance Service
The response of the community air ambulance service has been to the point and swift. It has brought to light the fact that Ireland, as a country, faces shortage of doctors. This – coupled with the fact that the entire crew, including doctors, have to be ready to respond to emergencies round the clock – takes doctors away from the hospitals, which see more patients. The management of the air ambulance service also appealed to those raising concerns that they should come to Ireland and practice in the country. The charity also mentioned that over 200 doctors work for it voluntarily and there is no cause for concern.