Developing countries to donate ambulances to DC FEMS
Chief Ellerbe said the 14 donated ambulances were new to them and that they're "getting them all outfitted with those new car scent air fresheners"
By Kelly Grayson
In an unorthodox reversal of U.S. aid to developing countries, the International Red Cross today announced the formation of a new program for developing nations to donate their retired ambulances to the beleaguered DC Fire EMS fleet.
An IRC spokesman and the DCFEMS chief conducted a joint press conference Tuesday, touting the new initiative.
“It was on one of my vacations to Mexico that the idea struck me,” said the chief. “In downtown Cozumel, I saw more ambulances on the street than we currently field at DC FEMS. Some of them even had working air conditioners. So, I started doing some investigation, to see what they did with their retired rigs.”
IRC spokesperson Hal Anta Tamzahma'ee, a Sudan native, proudly announced the donation of three 1994 Mercedes Sprinters from his home country, fully equipped with Thumper CPR devices, LifePak 5 cardiac monitors and expired ACLS medications. In addition, he stated eleven more ambulances from Brazil, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Ecuador and Guatemala are on the way, pending mechanical repairs and refurbishing.
Hector Ruiz, Chief of Bomberos Station 19 in Ciudad des Gatos, Guatemala, a small farming community known for its coffee made from the feces of civet cats, said, “For years, we have looked up to our American brothers in EMS. Now, it’s our turn to give something back to our less fortunate paramedic amigos in the District of Columbia.”
Ruiz gestured to the ambulance behind him, a 1983 Wheeled Coach Type II conversion. “I had many good years in good old Unit 34 here. She’s a little old, but there’s plenty of life left in her still. She’d be a good addition to the DC FEMS fleet.”
The DCFEMS chief, responding to criticism that the donated ambulances may not meet department, Federal KKK 1822 or NFPA 1902 specifications, replied, “Hey, beggars can’t be choosers. These donated ambulances will fulfill our promise to the city council of fourteen new ambulances. We have every confidence that they’ll be more roadworthy and mechanically sound than the current vehicles in our fleet.”
When it was pointed out that fourteen donated ambulances of 1983-1994 vintage can hardly be considered new, Chief Ellerbe clarified, “They’re new to us. And we’re getting them all outfitted with those new car scent air fresheners. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a plane to catch.”