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Special Delivery: Former Mayo Clinic ambulance on its way to Haiti

"It just means that 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 people a day won't have to go through the heartache of finding out they don't have an ambulance to take them to the hospital," explains the EMT who set the donation in motion.

Posted: Nov 19, 2019 7:15 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2019 8:24 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - On December 6th, a former Mayo Clinic ambulance is expected to arrive in Carrefour, Haiti.

Each year, Mayo Clinic replaces 8-10 vehicles in its fleet. The ambulances are judged by factors such as mileage, how long its been in service, and how it's performing. Before the ambulance starts becoming unreliable, Mayo finds new homes for them, such as other first responder organizations domestically and internationally.

"We're certainly blessed with our ability to have the latest technology and equipment for our team and our patients we support," explains Kirk Gunderson, a supervisor at Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service. "If we have the opportunity to take a piece of equipment that may have ended its useful life with us, its probably got a lot of life left in it and any time that we can take that and pass it on to someone else its certainly a win-win."

Chris Hedlund, a Mayo emergency medical technician in Eau Claire, Wis., made a specific request for the future home of a retired vehicle. He knew a friend, Brian Merriam, volunteering with his local Rotary Club in New York to help people in Carrefour. The Mayor of Carrefour had asked Merriam if he could help the city get a new ambulance. The city's last working ambulance was donated nearly 3 decades ago.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and accessing emergency medical care can be a major challenge.

Hedlund worked with Mayo to see if donating a Mayo ambulance was possible. Mayo donated it to the Schenectady Rotary Club, which orchestrated its move to Haiti. Hedlund drove it to the east coast, where it is now waiting to be loaded at the Port of Baltimore.

"One ambulance isn't going to solve the problem in a city that could use 30 ambulances but it just means that 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 people a day won't have to go through the heartache of finding out they don't have an ambulance to take them to the hospital," says Hedlund.

The ambulance is expected to arrive on December 6th.

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