BUMBLEance launches its 16th Vehicle at CHI at Connolly Children’s Urgent Care Centre

Heavenly Saoirse’s Sweet Sixteenth & New Children Critical Care Ambulance

Celebrating your child’s 16th birthday or any other significant milestone for parents is usually a happy and joyful time. When your child has passed on at an early age, like Saoirse Heffernan, who died on the 18th of January 2011 at the age of just 5 years, then such milestones are more poignant, heartfelt, and exceptionally difficult. However, this year, Mary and Tony Heffernan are celebrating the life of their daughter Saoirse in a different way with the launch of a brand new critical care ambulance for the children of Ireland who need it most.

Today not only marks 16 years since the birth of Saoirse, it is now also the day when the Heffernan’s launch the 16th vehicle with their charity, BUMBLEance. This special ambulance is entering service to support the children in Ireland who require Critical Care Services and specialist support from across the country. Charity Patron Miriam O’ Callaghan (television current affairs presenter with RTÉ), the Heffernan’s, Elish Hardiman (CEO Children’s Health Ireland) and Dr Dermot Doherty attend the launch at the CHI Children’s Urgent Care Centre at Connolly Hospital in Dublin for the new 211 Kerry Registered Vehicle. This announcement comes fast on the heels of the Heffernan’s and charity launch of a brand new BUMBLEance (number 15) yesterday (June 3rd) to further develop its regional based services in the South East of the country.

The 16th BUMBLEance vehicle, which will operate across the entire country, will be used to transport exceptionally sick children who have life-threatening illness and injuries to the major trauma and treatment centres The IPATS team consists of dedicated specialised Doctors and Nurses working within the 2 of the Children’s hospitals, CHI at Crumlin, CHI at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, who in partnership with BUMBLEance and the National Ambulance Service, provide the highest quality of paediatric intensive care from the time of referral to handover in an intensive care unit.

The IPATS national clinical lead is Dr Cathy Gibbons, who cared for Saoirse when she was alive and was attending Temple Street.

Speaking at the launch, Tony and Mary Heffernan stated, “it’s an absolute honour to remember Saoirse in this special way, little did we know that on what should have been our daughter very special 16th birthday that we would be launching our 16th BUMBLEance instead, Saoirse’s memory is a driving force that helps us to continue to work with the dedicated teams across Ireland who together, proactively care for and support sick children in the most tangible way, we hope that many families will benefit from this new vehicle and also via the existing fleet of BUMBLEance’s stationed around the country”.

Eilish Hardiman CEO of CHI stated..  

“We are delighted to welcome this new critical care ambulance to the BUMBLEance fleet. This new ambulance will provide our most critically ill patients with the best standard of care during transport to and from our hospitals. The vehicle is specifically designed and tailored for children, available free of charge to our patients across our facilities at our Urgent Care Centre at Connolly and Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght Hospitals. Thank you to BUMBLEance and also to the National Ambulance Service for facilitating this.”

BUMBLEance and the Heffernan’s first partnered with the Irish Paediatric Acute Transport Service (IPATS) over five years ago with their original BUMBLEance, #1. The Heffernan’s who know the challenges many parents face when accessing healthcare and using ambulances when their children were alive, used the original BUMBLEance for their son Liam, for his end of Life “BUMBLEance ANGEL TRIP” service in 2014, his final journey on earth before he grew his Angel Wings.

Staff CHI at Connolly

Dr Dermot Doherty, Lead of the Critical Care Retrieval Service said

“NAS-CCRS received a BUMBLEance critical care ambulance some years ago as a gift to the IPATS team.  It was an amazing gift and provided resilience to the fleet as the IPATS service commenced.  When this vehicle travels under blue lights and sirens, it was clear to all that there are very precious little people on board.  This new Critical Care BUMBLEance will build on our relationship with the Saoirse Foundation.  We are honoured and grateful for this gift.  It will be used to deliver paediatric critical care services to children across the country and bring them safely to PICU in CHI at Temple Street or Crumlin hospital”.     

BUMBLEance is part of The Saoirse Foundation, a charity that was founded by the Heffernan’s in 2010 after their young daughter, Saoirse, was diagnosed with the rare and always fatal neurological condition Batten Disease. Tragically the Heffernan’s son Liam was also diagnosed with Batten Disease.  He grew his angel wings also at the tender age of five in 2014.

There have been over 14,000 trips nationwide since BUMBLEance’s inception in late 2013 and there are hundreds of families availing of the charity’s services today, all of which are free.  Despite fundraising plans being devastated due to the pandemic, the charity continues to help families from across the country and provide invaluable support.  The Charity is currently fundraising to build even more BUMBLEance’s to support children across the island of Ireland and have partnered with Munster Rugby for a new Provisional service to be known as the Munster Machine.

Websites: www.saoirsefoundation.com   / www.bumbleance.com  / http://www.nasccrs.ie/IPATS/