More former ambulances sent to frontline of Ukraine conflict

Former ambulances still supporting patients in need after being decommissioned

North East Ambulance Service has donated more former ambulance vehicles to the Ukraine support effort.

Two decommissioned ambulances and a Land Rover have been handed over to the Ukrainian military courtesy of a Ukrainian doctor and his friends.

This is the third such donation of decommissioned vehicles and equipment to be donated by the service over the last year.

Anatoliy Telpov, who works in the Emergency Department of South Tyneside District Hospital, was a key member of a group who drove the fleet close to the border of Ukraine.

The efforts by Dr Telpov, who is from Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in the west of the country, follows previous work with NHS colleague Kelley Storey. She works for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and private ambulance company, FSNE.

Alongside the NEAS vehicles, FSNE donated a 4x4 and provided funds to pay for fuel and food for the journey.

With the help of Harry Clark, who works for NEAS, and FSNE team members James Redshaw, Katharine Sayer and Stephen Aitken, all four vehicles were taken across to mainland Europe and then to the Polish border to be handed to Ukrainian military representatives.

Simarnam Singh, who also works as a doctor alongside Dr Telpov at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, and his friends and family from the Sikh Temple GKMRHK in South Shields, sponsored ferry travel, hotels and return flights for the team.

The vehicles have since undergone checks in Ukraine and have been resprayed. They will now be helping to transport casualties from the frontline to where they can be treated.

The doctor and a team of friends and supporters he works with, are now seeking out more 4x4 vehicles and quadbikes to send over in the next wave of donations.

They hope to raise more funds and gather together as many donated vehicles as possible to send over to Ukraine.

He said: “These vehicles have gone to help get people to hospitals from the frontline and we know they have gone to help in the South East of the country. They will be helping every day.

“The journey to take them over to Ukraine went very well. The team was absolutely marvellous and dedicated and they faced long days and very hot conditions with no air conditioning.

“All the vehicles got their final checks and now they’re out there helping. We got some great feedback from the military, saying they were a help.”

A further two vehicles have also been donated to the Bravery Foundation which has also been used for the Ukraine effort. Another 7.5 tonne lorry will be donated in September 2023.

Graham Tebbutt, managing director of NEASUS, the subsidiary fleet arm of North East Ambulance Service, said: “It’s great to know that even after they’ve finished serving the North East public, our vehicles are able to continue helping patients in need.

“My team have been really proud of being able to play a small role in this work, and I’d like to thank them for their support in ensuring the vehicles were capable of completing the journey.”

Dr Telpov added: “A special thank you must go to Kelley for her help and time with this project.

“Graham has also been a huge support, without the generous gift of the ambulances and supplies it would not have been possible.

“I would like to say a thank you to Greg Douglas and Melissa Douglas, the directors of FSNE, and their team, as well as my colleague Sim for everything they have done.

“Now we are working to source as many 4x4s and quadbikes as we can, as they can handle the terrain and can be used to get people who need help out fast.”

Anyone interested in donating funds can donate via the GoFundMe campaign and contact Dr Telpov through the page.

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