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An American man has credited the Irish Community Air Ambulance and National Ambulance Service personnel for saving his life after he suffered a heart attack while on holiday in North Clare.

Michael Almada lives near Cape Cod in Massachusetts and has been coming to Ireland with his family for the last 20 years. He retired in 2020 and now makes extended trips to the Banner County.

As someone who walked no less than six miles a day plus regularly running, biking and hiking, the 68 year old was in good health. However, he suffered a heart attack on Monday, September 6th while at their cottage in Kilfenora.

“I was in no way a candidate for a coronary but the crushing pressure that filled my chest that morning left me in no doubt I was having a heart attack. My wife, Pam, thankfully was there to get help and was supported by our wonderful neighbours,” he recalled.

An ambulance arrived at the cottage within half an hour, paramedics assessed Michael and found that he was suffering from a serious blockage. They alerted the Irish Community Air Ambulance who were able to land in a nearby field. Michael was taken straight to the Cardiac Cath Lab at University Hospital Limerick where a team was waiting to operate on him. His procedure was completed within 45 minutes of taking off from Kilfenora. The trip by HEMS Air Ambulance from Kilfenora to UHL took approximately 20 minutes. Michael’s wife followed by car in a journey that took an hour and ten minutes.

Although he was experiencing “excruciating” pain at the time, Michael’s biggest concern was his family. “I was wondering would they have to bring me home in a box? Once I saw the crew of the helicopter I knew I was going to make it. The ambulance and helicopter crews were so calm and professional. Sure, it took a great surgical team, Coronary Care Unit staff and a host of support players to bring about a great outcome, but the Irish Community Air Ambulance was a vital link without which I would either not be here, or here in a terribly reduced state.”

He spent four days in hospital and is recovering well ahead of his return to the United States. He is now able to walk for forty minutes a day.

Prior to his heart attack, Michael had never heard of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, now it is an organisation he will never forget. “I didn’t even know such an option existed, nor would I have ever thought I would be needing it. I was astonished to hear it is 100% charity funded, I was lying in my hospital bed wondering what this would cost me. It is such a great service, to think that the HEMS Air Ambulance could be in North Clare so quickly and airlift me straight to hospital. My family and I thank the crew and the supporters of this great Community Air Ambulance service so very much, far beyond what we can put in words and will remain lifelong supporters.”

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service and is ready to respond to serious incidents and medical emergencies from its base in Rathcoole in North Cork. The Irish Community Air Ambulance is on track to complete more than 500 missions this year and is predicting a 10% increase since 2020. Incidents range from road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests and farming accidents, to equestrian incidents and falls from heights.

For more information about the service visit https://communityairambulance.ie

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