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Rwanda’s national EMS system

The Rwandan Ministry of Health’s Jean Marie Uwitonze and Dr. Sudha Jayaraman discuss the jewel in the crown of African Ambulance Services

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This episode of EMS One-Stop with Rob Lawrence is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit

In this episode of EMS One-Stop, our host, Rob Lawrence, kicks off a series on international EMS, interviewing EMS leaders across the globe on how their systems are operated, the challenges they face and the successes they have had.

Rob begins his podcast journey with Rwanda, a country and EMS system close to his heart. Rob has advised the Rwandan EMS system and monitored their progress for many years. In this episode, he welcomes Rwandan EMS Leader Jean Marie Uwitonze from the Rwandan Ministry of Health, Division of EMS; and U.S. Trauma Surgeon Dr. Sudha Jayaraman, director of the Center for Global Surgery at the University of Utah.

Rwanda is one of the only countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to have a publicly run, national ambulance service, which was established in 2007. Uwitonze highlights the development of EMS, and training and certification levels in Rwanda, as well as the next major project to develop and enhance emergency communications across the country.

Dr. Jayaraman describes her involvement (for over a decade) in the development of EMS in the country and notes, “We all know that there is no point in having a wonderfully qualified surgeon in the hospital if there is no means to get the patient there.”


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Rob Lawrence has been a leader in civilian and military EMS for over a quarter of a century. He is currently the director of strategic implementation for PRO EMS and its educational arm, Prodigy EMS, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and part-time executive director of the California Ambulance Association.

He previously served as the chief operating officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority (Virginia), which won both state and national EMS Agency of the Year awards during his 10-year tenure. Additionally, he served as COO for Paramedics Plus in Alameda County, California.

Prior to emigrating to the U.S. in 2008, Rob served as the COO for the East of England Ambulance Service in Suffolk County, England, and as the executive director of operations and service development for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. Rob is a former Army officer and graduate of the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served worldwide in a 20-year military career encompassing many prehospital and evacuation leadership roles.

Rob is a board member of the Academy of International Mobile Healthcare Integration (AIMHI) as well as chair of the American Ambulance Association’s State Association Forum. He writes and podcasts for EMS1 and is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Connect with him on Twitter.