Volunteers to risk kidnap and robbery driving ambulances to Pakistan
A TEAM of volunteers will run the risk of kidnapping and robbery to drive a convoy of ambulances 3,700 miles to Pakistan.
It is hoped the trip, organised by two Nottingham-based charities, will help save lives.
A total of 25 ambulances will make the journey from the UK to the poverty-stricken Rawalpindi district next month – providing the area's first official public ambulance network.
A team of 50 volunteers from the UK will drive the vehicles through eight countries.
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The scheme is a partnership between international aid agencies Muslim Hands, based in Hyson Green, and National Police Aid Convoys, based in Mansfield.
Aslan Nusrat, 33, programmes and partnerships manager for Muslim Hands, who is going on the trip, said: "This is a difficult journey. Up to Turkey it's not that problematic but on the route from Iran to Pakistan, there are parts that are quite dangerous. It's for a good cause and we hope to reach there safely and provide a real benefit to people there."
National Police Aid Convoys have helped the charity plan the trip and source the 25 ambulances – a mixture of old NHS vehicles and converted vans from across the region.
They will be kitted out with livery and first-aid equipment and ambulance staff uniforms will be provided.
The vehicles will serve medical centres and hospitals within a 40-mile radius. Currently, there is no consistent public ambulance network there.
The group is hoping to organise a police escort for part of the journey through Pakistan.
David Scott, chairman of National Police Aid Convoys, said: "This will truly reduce unnecessary fatalities in maternity, road accidents and heart attacks by providing ambulances with sufficient medical equipment.
"The idea of providing a joined-up ambulance service in Rawalpindi is incredible. One of the biggest things they are taking is pride – they will have official green uniforms."
The convoy, dubbed The Big Drive, will leave Notts on April 19.
Donations for equipment, fuel and hotel stays for the tour team are still needed.
To help or find out more, visit www.muslimhands.org.uk/ events/2013/the-big-drive, visit Muslim Hands at 148 Gregory Boulevard, Hyson Green, or call 0115 911 7222.