Almost half of all emergency air ambulance call outs nationwide result in patients being brought to University Hospital Galway.
A total of 260 people were transferred to the hospital by helicopter in 2018. This represents 49% of the national total.
Details on the volume of air traffic to the hospital have been given to a meeting of Galway City Council, as discussions on the provision of a permanent helicopter landing space beside the facility continue.
At present, a temporary site close to the hospital is used for landings.
Residents in the Shantalla area of the city have expressed concern that recreational spaces will be taken from the community, to facilitate the construction of a permanent landing site.
Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) are provided to the National Ambulance Service by the Aer Corps and the Irish Coast Guard.
The use of air transport significantly reduces travel times to hospital for those with serious health conditions or life threatening injuries.
The majority of all call outs come from the western half of the country, where sparser population, poorer road infrastructure and longer transport times to major hospitals all contribute to demand. While there are landing facilities at more than 30 hospitals around the country, Galway accounts for 49% of the national total.
This afternoon’s meeting of Galway City Council has heard from the HSE’s National Director of Facilities, Joe Hoare. He said that, in line with the latest safety standards, an area of between three to three and a half acres would be needed for the dedicated helipad.
As part of the proposal, an all weather football pitch will be provided for community use but locals contend the acquisition of part of an area, zoned for recreation and amenity, amounts to a ‘land grab’ by the HSE.
Councillors have been told that there are no other sites on the hospital grounds that are suitable for the helipad.