Area Ambulance Service donates vehicle to save lives in Ukraine

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 3:56 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -An ambulance from eastern Iowa is going to Ukraine to try and save lives. The ambulance is leaving Cedar Rapids Monday. It will be put on a flight and should arrive in Ukraine in about a week. It’s happening as winter weather has set in and portions of the country are currently without power.

Around 40 sleeping bags were loaded into the ambulance that’s going from Area Ambulance Service in Cedar Rapids to Ukraine. It’s an extra measure to try and help as Russian attacks have led to power outages. Staff at Area Ambulance Service donated many of the sleeping bags themselves.

”They’re just really good folks with big hearts,” said Keith Rippy, CEO of Area Ambulance Service.

The ambulance was ready to be retired from the fleet at Area Ambulance Service. Rippy saw it more important to donate it to Ukraine, than to sell it to a reseller.

”When you can help out another country doing this kind of service, doing this kind of work, it’s important for us to be able to do that if we have the opportunity,” he said.

In addition to sleeping bags the ambulance is stocked with medical supplies. The donation of the vehicle is part of an initiative called U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine which originated in Illinois earlier this year.

”To now have 18 ambulances in Ukraine and possibly have another 10 ambulances and a fire engine that we’re going to send in December just kind of blows my mind,” said Chris Manson, Founder of U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine.

By next month 29 ambulances will have gone to the Ukraine from the United States, five of them coming from Iowa. The one leaving Cedar Rapids is set to be the 25th to make it’s arrival in Ukraine.

”It’s in very good shape, our mechanic went through it bumper to bumper,” said Rippy.

Manson has traveled to the Ukraine several times over the past year to see first hand the need for ambulances, as well as where the donated ones are going.

”There’s military units that basically don’t have vehicles to take their wounded and get them to a high level of care, they just don’t have ambulances. You have communities that have lost all of their public services,” he explained.

The first responders donating the ambulances are helping to save lives a world away.

”Thanks to the people in Iowa, thanks to Keith and his team,” said Manson.

The ambulance being donated from Cedar Rapids is going to a military unit that will likely be serving on the front lines very soon.