The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has not ruled out the future use of drone technology, the HSE has told this newspaper.
“The NAS aero-medical service does not use drone technology as yet to assist in aero-medical operations,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).
“The use of drone technology has many complex considerations, however NAS are always open to considering initiatives that can have a positive impact on patient care delivery.”
In some parts of the world, drone technology has been used to deliver medicines and blood supplies to remote areas, for example.
Meanwhile, this newspaper asked questions regarding the staffing level at the NAS at the National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre (NACC).
“The National Ambulance Service currently have the following staff working at the National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre (NACC): Aero-Medical Liaison Officer x 1, Control Manager for NACC x 1, Aero-Medical dispatchers x 9 (who work a 24/7 rota within the National Emergency Operations Centre),” said the HSE spokesperson.
“Staff are recruited as needed from within the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).”
The function of the NACC is to manage all aero-medical missions requested through the NAS, for both national and international missions.
Asked about the budget for the NACC, the spokesperson said “the NACC functions as part of the National Ambulance Service. The budget is assigned to the National Ambulance Service as part of the annual service planning process. There is not a specific budget for NACC.”
There were 415 “completed tasks” by the Emergency Aeromedical Support (EAS) service in 2016, according to Department of Defence figures.
This compared to 396 in 2015 and 353 in 2014.