The world’s first interactive ambulance service designed especially for children has been gifted an assortment of state-of-the-art equipment and technology by leading tech, transportation and emergency services providers


BUMBLEance was launched at the beginning of September 2013 by the Saoirse Foundation charity, run by Tony and Mary Heffernan. The ambulance, which looks like a giant bumble bee, has been kitted out with the latest technology, designed with the needs of children in mind. The Saoirse Foundation has created a fun environment for sick children to travel to and from hospitals and medical centres for scheduled appointments.

The aim of the BUMBLEance is to make the journey for the child and parents as enjoyable as it can be. To make this as seamless as possible,, a technology company from Dundalk, Co. Louth, has installed a world-class Control4 automation system on board the BUMBLEance.  The system allows the child to control the TV and music system via the on-board iPad.

The online directory of movies and music allows the child to select a movie or a song from the iPad and it will instantly play on the TV or through the BUMBLEance speakers. The system is normally installed in new homes and has the ability to control lighting, heating, audio and video via iPad from anywhere in the world. This is the first installation of its kind into an ambulance.

On-board wi-fi allows internet browsing and social media engagement, as well as Skype calls. Members of the public can message or tweet their best wishes to the child on board, who can also track their journey progress on the internet by logging into the BUMBLEance satellite tracking system. Up to two adults (parents, carers, nursing staff, etc) can travel with the child and the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council-registered practitioner in the rear of the ambulance (the saloon).


Inside the BUMBLEance (click to enlarge)

The base vehicle is a Mercedes Sprinter chassis with air-suspension and air-conditioning, which was converted to a CEN Type B emergency ‘box-body’ ambulance by Wilker Auto Conversions (based in Clara, Co. Offaly). It received Individual Vehicle Approval from the National Standards Authority of Ireland prior to being submitted for a National Car test/registration.

As regards the vehicle build specification, BUMBLEance required it to be fitted out as a paediatric ambulance in accordance with its charitable purpose. The vehicle is equipped with a Ferno stretcher, Lifepak-12 defibrillator and Laerdal suction unit, being the primary medical equipment on board, in addition to the standard range of medical consumables.

The exterior/interior lighting, battery management, inverter, satellite tracking, eco-fuel and camera modules/features are controlled and monitored using equipment supplied by ATSR (based in Tullamore, Co. Offaly). The vehicle is despatched and radio/telephone controlled from Lifeline Ambulance Service’s Control Room (Leixlip, Co. Kildare), with additional oversight by way of the GPS satellite tracking system on-board.

David Hall, managing director of Lifeline Ambulance Service, which operates BUMBLEance on behalf of the Saoirse Foundation, says that the impact and benefit of BUMBLEance has been immediately apparent to the crews when they first engage with the special young patients in their care. The child’s focus is largely diverted away from the more medical aspects of the vehicle interior, resulting in a much more positive experience for the patient and their family during their transfer.

BUMBLEance has a 19-inch LED TV, Playstation games console, iPad Mini and a dual channel wi-fi hotspot which enables the ambulance to communicate with the wider world, allowing live streaming from the internet, Skype calls and more.


BUMBLEance transports children throughout Ireland, from both urban and rural locations, to wherever they are to be treated, in a vehicle which has been brightly decorated inside and out. Tony Heffernan, founder of the Saoirse Foundation, said: “BUMBLEance provides stress-reducing journeys for children in state-of-the-art, safe, fun vehicles. Every parent can appreciate that an ambulance journey with a child can be very traumatic. However, within BUMBLEance, fun will be the medicine of the day.

“We’ve been very lucky to receive fantastic support from every sector of Irish society and from companies like Ferno, Tech-Fit, Mercedes, Lifeline and ATSR. The Saoirse Foundation receives no State funding for this service and is reliant on support from the business community and members of the public. Donations and in-kind support are integral to the future of the BUMBLEance service in Ireland and to its anticipated growth.”

The mission is to have a further four BUMBLEance’s in service in Ireland – one in each province and two for Dublin. The only way this can become a reality is through fundraising and one way every business and individual can help is by donating unwanted mobile phones to the charity. The Saoirse Foundation will readily deliver a collection bin to any interested business/office around the country, and collect it once filled.

The charity is currently running a competition to win a 2014 Mercedes worth €30,000. Every phone donated is an entry for the draw and a smart phone donation gives you five entries. If you do not have a phone and would like to donate just €4, you can text BUZZ to 50300. The charity does not receive any State funding and the CEO, Tony Heffernan does not receive any salary, allowance, top-ups or any perks from the charity.

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  BUMBLEance was launched at the beginning of September 2013 by the Saoirse Foundation charity, run by Tony and Mary Heffernan. The ambulance, which looks like a giant bumble bee, has been kitted out with the latest technology, designed with the needs of children in mind. The Saoirse Foundation has...