999 crews answer call – for Mongolia mission!

About to embark on a 10,000-mile trip of a lifetime, trainee paramedic KATIE NORMAN explains why a convoy of six old London ambulances are heading for Mongolia. 

One of the LDV ambulances which will be setting off for Mongolia in July.

THEIR days responding to 999 calls may be over, but there are many miles still to go for a fleet of six former London ambulances.
The Leyland DAF vans are about to embark on a journey from the UK to Mongolia, where they will be used as part of the country’s emerging health care provision.
The decommissioned ambulances were due to be scrapped but have instead been sold for a nominal sum by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) to international aid charity Go Help.
Departing on July 9, a team of 28 people made up of volunteers from the LAS, Go Help and Surrey children’s charity MERU, will drive the ambulances in convoy from London to Mongolia.
After 10,000 miles on the road, the journey will end with the vehicles being handed over to Go Help’s contacts in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.
At present, there are just a few active ambulances in the whole of Mongolia so the LDVs will be warmly welcomed on arrival.
Each vehicle will be crewed by a team of four people made up of volunteers from the three organisations involved.
Student paramedic Katie Norman is one of 14 LAS staff members taking part in the project.
She said: “The route takes us through Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. We then go back into Russia before entering Mongolia from the northern border.
“It’s going to be one hell of a journey, but these vehicles still have a lot of miles left in them so they should be up to it. And it’s great that they will find a welcome new home at the end of it.”
As well as donating the vehicles to Go Help in Mongolia, the volunteers also hope to use the trip to fundraise for MERU, which is the nominated charity of the LAS’s chief executive.
Based in Epsom, Surrey, MERU creates specialist equipment to support disabled children and young people.
To support the team on their journey, visit http://ambostomongolia.blogspot.com/ and click on the donate button.
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