Ambulances and apparatus for Ukraine
A small group is coordinating with the Ukrainian Government to ship ambulances and fire apparatus full of supplies to support Ukrainians, and they need your help
By Chris Manson
Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia on Feb. 24, 2022, my 7-year-old daughter Lily asked what we could do to help those suffering in Ukraine. We came up with the idea of sending American ambulances full of supplies to Ukraine.
The initial idea was to send one. I reached out to the government in Kyiv and the Ukrainian Consulate in Chicago. They soon put me in touch with others working to send aid to Ukraine and on March 29, 2022, we sent our first ambulance full of medical supplies and equipment to Ukraine on a 747-800 aircraft.
Once the Consulate staff in Chicago saw the quality of the ambulance and the equipment included, they soon asked for additional ambulances. Thankfully, we found another donor and we were able to send a second ambulance on another flight on April 11, 2022 – again full of supplies.
Since these first two shipments of ambulances, we have completed four additional shipments from the United States to Ukraine via aircraft and ship. In total, we have successfully delivered 18 ambulances, all full of medical supplies, to Ukraine. This has been accomplished in coordination with groups like the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America, UA Resistance Foundation, Ukrainian American House California, and the Ukrainian Government.
I have personally traveled to Ukraine three times since April meeting with local leaders, governors, nonprofit organizations, military units, fire departments and hospitals. On two occasions, I have personally led convoys of ambulances into Ukraine. I led a seven-ambulance convoy into Ukraine on Oct. 18, 2022, and delivered ambulances to Lviv, Rivne, Kyiv and Odesa. We left Ukraine on Oct. 21, having delivered all seven ambulances, over 60 AEDs, 100 IV pumps, and about two tons of medical supplies and fire equipment directly to those in need. Our ambulances are supporting combat operations in both the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine.
I am happy to report that upon returning from my latest trip to Ukraine, we now have nine more ambulances that are being donated and I have one Type 1 Engine and maybe one 75-foot Snorkel fire apparatus. That will bring the total number of U.S. ambulances donated to 27 since March 29, 2022 (we are still looking for more ambulances). These vehicles will ship to Ukraine from an East Coast port in early December.
Need for Type 3 fire engines
While I am excited to report on the success of our efforts to get ambulances, we still need more fire engines. Specifically, we need Type 3 engines, the kind commonly used to fight wildland fires. I was a firefighter in Healdsburg, California, for several years before moving to Illinois and based on my working on these types of engines and my understanding of their design characteristics, I can tell you that their size, maneuverability, water capacity and ability to drive over unimproved roads make them the ideal fire engine for Ukraine at this time. What I am looking for is any Type 3 engine that is about to be retired but still in good operating condition. I am looking for those engines that are now in reserve status and maybe about to be replaced (of course I will take a new one if someone has one). The biggest issue of importance is that it be in good condition mechanically and that the pump works well. We are not concerned with some dents, miles, worn interior, etc.; these rigs will be heading to a war zone. It would be good if it had some hose also, wildland hose, pre-connects, and some 2½-inch hose and the appropriate nozzles would be ideal if possible.
If someone has an engine they would like to donate, all we need is a title and a donation letter (we will provide the sample letter). In return, the donating entity will receive a thank you letter for the donation from a registered 501(c)(3) and they will also be provided pictures and updates along the way concerning their donated vehicle. The donating entity will know exactly where the fire engine is going in Ukraine and what role it will be playing. They will also get pictures of it being delivered.
We are working with two different 501(c)(3) organizations out of Chicago that will cover all costs to pick up the fire engine and deliver it to our warehouse in Chicago where it will be prepped for shipment. From there, the vehicle will be shipped to Europe and then brought into Ukraine and delivered.
Our next shipment will leave in mid-December, so if any entity would like to donate a Type 3 fire engine or ambulance and they are ready to do so now, we can work with them to get their vehicle on the next shipment if we have it by the first week of December. Anyone wanting more information or wanting to discuss a possible donation can reach me at 309-922-7046 or via email at Christopher.M.Manson@osfhealthcare.org and I will be happy to answer any questions.
About the author
Chris Manson is the vice president of government relations for OSF HealthCare, a 15-hospital health system operating out of Peoria, Illinois. He is a former firefighter from California, and he served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.