The country’s first community air ambulance is now operational in Munster.
Irish Community Rapid Response, a charity dedicated to pre-hospital care, is running the service in co-operation with the HSE National Ambulance Service.
The service, which will cover Kerry, is now operating from Rathcoole Aerodrome, just north-east of Millstreet.
The roll-out of the air ambulance was delayed for months, as operators awaited the signing of a service contract between them and the HSE.
That contract was signed in recent weeks and the air ambulance went into operation today.
It’s expected to respond to 500 calls per year in South-West Munster, and bring the population of a 10,000 square mile area within 20 minutes of critical medical care.
Today, Minster for Health Simon Harris said the charity will fund the aviation service while the HSE will provide the clinical staff.
Additional resources of €250,000 have been made available to fund the additional manpower required.