Ambulance No. 85, a roughly 6-year-old member of the fleet at the Richmond Ambulance Authority, is preparing for reassignment.
In the weeks to come, the boxy, white transport vehicle will board a jet or ship somewhere on the East Coast and cross the Atlantic Ocean. The exact details of the voyage have been kept secret to maintain security.
Its destination: a fire department in central Ukraine. Its mission: to transport and care for survivors of attacks by Russian soldiers, who in the past eight months have killed Ukrainian citizens and soldiers and ravaged the country during an invasion.
“The world, led by America, has stepped up and said we’re not going to let that happen,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on Friday in a gathering to send off ambulance No. 85.
It all started with a 7-year-old girl in Illinois. Seeing the destruction in Ukraine on the news, Lily Manson asked her father, “What can we do to help?”
Chris Manson works for a health system in Peoria, so he called a Ukrainian consulate and left a message, offering medical supplies and an ambulance. He quickly got a call back. Yes, we want the ambulance, the person on the line said. And when can we get it?
The first ambulance boarded a 747 airplane out of Chicago, landed in Poland and was driven across the border. After the first ambulance arrived, the Ukrainians asked for 20 more.
Manson started an organization called U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine that has delivered 18 vehicles, 2 tons of supplies and 60 automatic external defibrillators. Manson has driven two of them into Ukraine himself. They’ve gone straight in action in Rivne, Kharkiv and Odesa. Seven more are being prepared for shipment, and Manson hopes to deliver at least 30 in total.
Ambulance No. 85 was due to be decommissioned. Though it’s just 6 years old, it already has been driven more than 200,000 miles. The RAA could sell it, but there’s not a great market for used ambulances — it would fetch only $5,000, a spokesperson for the Richmond Ambulance Authority said. It’s far more useful to the people of Ukraine.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association helped arrange donations, and health systems contributed supplies. Virginia Commonwealth University Health System donated $20,000 worth of suture kits, gauze and tape.
On Friday, a group of people sent off No. 85, loading the supplies and writing messages on its exterior. Manson wrote his name and his daughter’s name. Another wrote RVA loves Ukraine, with a picture of a heart to convey the message. Members of the community are invited to write their own words.
When Manson arrived in Richmond and saw No. 85, he took pictures and messaged them to the firefighters in Ukraine. They called it “beautiful” and “amazing.”
Manson has seen enough ambulances to know a good one. No. 85 has great tires, he said.
PHOTOS: 20th U,S. Ambulance for Ukraine
Mark Tenia2022-11-07T12:12:57-05:00November 7th, 2022|