Independent TD Denis Naughten has confirmed that a new back-up air ambulance service is to be based beside Roscommon University Hospital from next week to replace the down time of the Air Corps based helicopter in Athlone.

The move follows a decision by the Department of Defence to withdraw the Athlone-based air ambulance service for 16 days between now and February next year due to training and staff shortage issues.

The Irish Community Rapid Response will base their air ambulance helicopter beside Roscommon University Hospital for 4 days per month for an initial 4 month period.

Run on €2m of funds raised annually by the community, the Cork-based Irish Rapid Response air ambulance has completed hundreds of missions dealing with road accidents and medical emergencies since its inception in August.

It is understood the Cork service will be in a position to operate at night unlike the service it is replacing in Athlone but there are concerns over the accessibility to sites in rural areas where the coast guard service may experience difficulties in landing safely.

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