We provide a vital service by taking ambulances into Syria and providing paramedics to work with them (the image above shows an ambulance outside our hospital at Atareb). It’s difficult work: Syrian ambulances are mercilessly and continuously targeted as they try to get the sick and injured to hospital. Many members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) staff have been killed in the conflict — even when travelling in clearly marked ambulances.
Our fleet of ambulances for Syria
We’ve already taken 35 ambulances into Syria (as of August 2014), and many more are needed. Ambulances are the only way to get seriously injured victims to emergency treatment at field hospitals; fast access to medical aid makes all the difference to survival.
We provide a paramedic for each ambulance
We provide a trained paramedic to work with each ambulance we supply, ensuring that patients can be stabilised before continuing on to expert help.
Planning where to take them & how to get them there
We don’t follow the practice of driving ambulances into Syria and then just leaving them there (‘dump and run’); nor do we simply hand them over to the parts of Syria easiest to get to from the Turkish border. Instead, we carefully plan where our ambulances can be of greatest benefit, helping to ensure wider and fairer geographical coverage.
Two-way radios help to ensure safety & security
There’s no central hub co-ordinating the ambulance service in Syria; furthermore, many parts of Syria are cut off from the telephone and mobile networks, or it’s simply too dangerous to use them (the signals would identify the location of the hospital, making it an easy target). Therefore, we fit our ambulances with two-way radios. This enables them to communicate with each other and to warn hospitals in advance of arrival (which can lead to improved outcomes and better preparation for major incidents and dealing with casualties).
How we source ambulances
We generally buy decommissioned ambulances from the NHS in the UK. After getting them serviced and repaired, we send them into Syria — usually filled with emergency aid we’re also taking into the country. You might not recognise them if you saw them: we have to remove the fluorescent markings which would be a dead give-away to fighter jets, turning emergency vehicles into moving targets. Many ambulances sent in by other aid agencies have been hit and destroyed.
The cost of ambulances for Syria
Each ambulance costs around £7,000, which covers purchasing and commissioning the vehicle and then getting it into Syria. Then there is the additional cost of training the accompanying paramedics. Your donation could help to get more ambulances and paramedics into Syria, meaning that many more people can survive.
Could you fund an ambulance?
We welcome enquiries from individuals and organisations interested in funding an ambulance in its entirety.
We address some issues about volunteering with ambulances on our FAQs page.
Find out more about…
- The Syrian healthcare crisis
- Our plans for a blood bank
- Our work in supporting and creating hospitals in Syria
- How we train Syrian doctors.