Ambulance charity gets off the ground

A CHARITY has been set up to help get Ireland’s first dedicated air ambulance service off the ground by next year.

Irish Air Ambulance has now been registered as a Co Kerry-based charity, with a board of trustees, including Irish businessmen and politicians.

Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe that does not have this life-saving service at its disposal.

Derek Rowe, who is behind the charity, hopes to establish a network of helicopter air ambulances throughout the country, operated by specially trained pilots, engineers and medical personnel, and get them in the air by next summer.

But his charity needs to raise €500,000 to get the choppers in the skies, and a further €1.2 million to meet the running costs of the first aircraft.

Mr Rowe said: “The huge contribution by helicopter air ambulances in other countries over many years is ample proof of the tremendous benefits, both medically and logistically, which the service will bring to the people of Ireland.

“The positive response to our plans is reflected in the commitment of the trustees to taking the service forward, and in increasing support generally.”

Chaired by Mr Rowe, the charity trustees are Cllr Toireása Ní Fhearaíosa, retired Garda Tom Moriarty, businessmen Edward Kelliher and Sean Rush, lecturer Pat McCarthy, Kathy Sinnott MEP, Mayor of Kerry, Michael Healy Rae, and Cllr Tom Walsh.

“Our objective is to provide a dedicated and reliable helicopter air ambulance service which, importantly, will complement and enhance existing ground-based resources in responding to incidents such as traffic accidents by either flying directly to the incident or rendezvousing with a land ambulance to allow that vehicle to remain in the area providing cover,” Mr Rowe said.

“The role will also include urgent hospital-to-hospital patient transfers.”

Ms Sinnott said she was confident the project would be supported by the public.

The charity has been in commercial discussions with a number of helicopter operators in Ireland and elsewhere and an announcement on the award of a contract, along with operational details, will be made soon.

* Donations to Derek Rowe, chairman, Irish Air Ambulance, contact 087 9090939 or email: irishairamb@iol.ie.

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