Air ambulance charity founder quits to set up rival operation


INTERNAL WRANGLING within Ireland’s first proposed dedicated air ambulance service has seen the charity’s founding member parting company with the struggling organisation to set up his own operation.

Derek Rowe, who was instrumental in founding All Ireland Air Ambulance, has expressed disappointment at how the charity is being run. Since he was replaced as chairman earlier this year, Mr Rowe has been involved in other charity work and has now confirmed plans to establish what could yet be Ireland’s first air ambulance service.

Mr Rowe established All Ireland Air Ambulance following the death of a close friend in a road crash near Killarney, Co Kerry. It took six hours for a road ambulance to get his friend to a Dublin hospital.

It was envisaged that the service would be operational by the summer of 2008. However, that launch date did not materialise. It had said it would launch up to four air ambulances to cover the island of Ireland.

Several attempts to launch the service have failed as the charity struggled to raise the €85,000 per month required to operate it.

In February last year, the organisers said they hoped to launch the service in the summer of 2009. Plans to launch on March 1st and then in April of this year were also deferred.

Since parting with the charity, Mr Rowe says he has secured a helicopter and hangar, as well as the support of a prominent Galway businessman, and is in talks to establish the People’s Children’s Air Ambulance.

A spokeswoman for All Ireland Air Ambulance said: “Unfortunately the launch didn’t occur in April due to a number of reasons. We don’t yet have the full approval of the HSE and funding is still an issue.

“Bond Air Services have committed to bringing the first air ambulance in September of this year but the official launch date has yet to be announced,” she said.