Necessity is the mother of invention. This is the case for Captain Harry Harvey Lero, the founder and CEO of Airgurus, the only medevac company in the Philippines. Incidentally, the first medevac case was through the wife of a friend. She called in with an emergency of a foreigner friend of hers that got into an accident on the distant shores of Boracay. At the time Capt. Harry had no helicopter of his own, so it was a risk for him to take on the quest. However, he got on his feet, and thinking fast he got rented the helicopter. Then he picked up the foreigner fellow and his wife and flew them to Makati Medical. This all happened in a span of four hours. Which for those who are not familiar with what it takes to execute a medical evacuation, is impressive as first missions go. Needless to say, to this day the foreigner couple and he have remained friends.
Over the years, Capt. Harry has flown at night, 200 miles out at sea, and during bad weather. In one case he was hired by the U.S government as a stand by in case of rescue mission operation. The location was given to him, which he was told was the pick up point near terrorists camp in the dangerous areas of Mindanao. It was a satellite image, so locating the area proved its own challenge. Over the years his skills and hard work has helped him make his own luck.
He comes from a family where flight is in the blood, Harry Harvey Lero is a third generation pilot. His grandfather was the kind of man who was an air force pilot and a WW2 guerrilla. He reminisces the weekends with his grandfather when he got to fly remote controlled helicopters. He learned precision and control before he got in a cockpit.
He didn’t immediately become a pilot however, in 2001 Captain Lero was in Chicago taking a certified nurse assistant course. He spent a year gathering up experience to run a nurse staffing agency. His company would send nurses and caregivers to nursing homes for the elderly. Later on he decided to study to be a registered nurse to get the medical background so he could hire the right staff, this is despite the fact that he says he’s, “scared of blood”. After he had come to a reasonable amount of success with his agency and was financially stable. He sold his shares of the company. In 2005 he moved back to the Philippines.
After the medevac rescue in 2007, Capt. Harry was discussing the mission rescue with his friend in the hangar at Pasay. He recalls the exact moment they coined the term Airgurus together.
“My friend owned a scuba company, Divegurus, it had the right ring to it so I said why not Airgurus.” After that he took his idea and went to different companies including EA Philippines to see how he could get started. The companies were able to offer him a guarantee on payment, fronting the money themselves and then collecting later on their own. Over the years the companies closed due to mismanagement. After he learned how to avoid those mistakes he decided he could open a company himself. This is how Airgurus came to be and this was what it took for a small startup to become the country’s trusted leader in medical evacuation.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, but what they don’t say is that it takes a lot of hard work, skill, and courage to pinpoint what is truly necessary to make that invention truly work.