First-response Mk1 Land Rover Freelander donated to Ukrainian Medical Services alongside Fiat Ducato ambulance
Words: Paul Guinness
Thanks to the efforts of a classic car enthusiast couple from Southampton, two vehicles – including a 2001 Land Rover Freelander Td4 – have just been converted to First Response spec and are about head to Ukraine. The Freelander and a Fiat Ducato van, each fully kitted out with medical equipment, are being donated to Ukrainian Medical Services by Richard Myers and his wife, Gosia.
“We run a small shipping company between the UK and the Channel Islands,” explains Richard. “Gosia is Polish and has a lot of family and friends close to the Ukrainian border. Her sister has already taken in a Ukrainian family, and we donated a car for her cousin to transport families to new temporary homes around Poland.”
The couple wanted to do more, however, and contacted the Ukrainian Embassy for advice: “We both have EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] training from previous careers, so we suggested providing a couple of ambulances, which the Embassy thought was a great idea.”
Richard located the Freelander locally and has just finished having it converted as a First Responder vehicle, complete with stocks of medical equipment, spinal boards and trauma kits. The couple has been successful in attracting generous donations from companies like A-Cute Medical, while Condor Ferries is providing free passage to France for the vehicles, which will be driven to Ukraine in the coming days.
“We have the full support and guidance of the Ukrainian Embassy in London, and have direct contact with the medical services based in Lviv’s central hospital,” says Richard. The second vehicle – a Fiat Ducato – is being converted to medical spec and both will be kitted out with spares packages to help keep them in full working order.
The costs incurred so far have largely been covered by Richard and Gosia, but they hope to provide more support in the coming weeks with the help of donations: “We are fundraising the last part of the jigsaw – getting the two vehicles across Europe, plus the final medical supplies that we need – and have set up a JustGiving page for anyone who can help in any way, no matter how small the donation. Every penny really does count.”
Richard and Gosia are in touch with medical officials in Lviv and will meet them at the border for the handover: “I’m about to fly out to meet our contacts to ensure everything is ready for receiving the two vehicles,” explains Richard, “and then a couple of friends will drive down in them and meet me at the border. We are all ex-Forces with medical training.”
A spokesman for Ukrainian Army Medics has commented on the imminent arrival of the Freelander: “Our medical defenders are waiting for this car to help evacuate wounded people from Bucha, Irpen and other places, and to carry wounded soldiers from the battlefields to the hospitals. There are so many good things this car can do – our gratitude is unbelievable.”
Richard is hoping that what began as a two-vehicle project could grow into something bigger, enabling him and Gosia to supply others when funds allow: “We’d love to get another two – ideally 4x4s – converted and sent to Ukraine to help with this vital work.”
Anybody wishing to donate to the Ambulances 4 Ukraine fund can do so here.