As RTÉ News reports, “mounting staffing and training problems” will force the Air Corps to ground the Athlone-based AC112 air ambulance it has been using since 2012 for a total of 16 days — four each month from now until February.
The Department of Defence confirmed in a statement that the coastguard “will provide reserve cover to the national ambulance service” in line with the establishment of the Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) in 2015.
The Irish Community Rapid Response air ambulance based in Rathcoole, Co Cork will also be available “and the potential for it to provide increased support is also being explored”.
The statement added: “The priority is to provide the best service possible using all available resources during the four-day periods each month when the Air Corps are not available for EAS taskings.
“This interruption is regrettable but necessary from a safety and governance perspective.”
The coastguard’s helicopter fleet was previously trialled as an air ambulance service, and subsequently engaged in night-time cover.
But the arrangement was scaled back two years ago over concerns with pilot doing double duty for patient transfers.