Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service owns and operates 74 ground ambulances throughout its service areas. And while every rig and situation is different, Matt Will, a paramedic and director of Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service, tells us each ambulance gives Mayo Clinic and its patients with "about eight years" of life-saving service.
When that eighth year approaches, there's no time for a Minnesota Goodbye. Instead, Will and his colleagues begin looking for new homes, where their ambulances can still be of service in places where folks might not otherwise have their own. "We maintain a list of agencies and departments, individuals that are interested in receiving a donation," Will says. "We're constantly looking at our fleet, and planning for what we're going to replace and the timing at which it's going to be replaced. And so when we have a vehicle come up for donation, we take a look at that."
So when Chris Hedlund, an emergency medical technician, came to Will with a special request for a potential new home for a 2009 Ford E350 ambulance — Carrefour, Haiti — it didn't take much convincing for Will to get onboard. "We try to donate to a broad range of groups, spread things out and have some diversity in our donations," he tells us. "The need and what it was going to be used for was certainly intriguing, and the thought of one of our vehicles having a second working life in Haiti was, honestly, pretty cool."
Pretty cool because, as the Schenectady, New York, Daily Gazette reports, it had been almost three decades since Carrefour's only working ambulance was donated to the city. "It's incredible to think the little things we take for granted are luxuries in a place like Haiti," Hedlund tells the Gazette. "We have benefits every day that we don't even realize are benefits to us until we understand how people live in extreme poverty."
In 2016, Carrefour Mayor Jude Edouard Pierre had asked Schenectady resident and frequent Haitian missionary Brian Merriam if he could help get the city a second ambulance, according to the Daily Gazette. Merriam told the mayor he'd "look into it," and he started calling ambulance services around the country. One of those calls reached Hedlund. At the time, Mayo Clinic didn't have an ambulance it could donate, but that changed last month.
Hedlund did much more than just arrange the donation. He took the wheel and, along with Merriam, drove the ambulance to Schenectady for a celebratory press conference. Then he drove to the Port of Baltimore, where the Gazette reports the ambulance will be "shipped over the Atlantic and reach Haiti in early December."
Will tells us he couldn't be prouder of the life-saving work the ambulance will continue to do. "I think it's great that Mayo Clinic does this because it allows us to find another home for these ambulances," he says. "It also means they can live on and continue to serve patients in a little different but much needed way."
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