An emergency medical technician from London Ambulance Service is preparing to spend his Christmas starting a 4,000-mile journey to Africa in an ambulance.
Mark Whitfield, who is based at Tolworth Ambulance Station, will travel to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, as part of the Plymouth to Dakar Rally.
The journey will take around four weeks and, once he arrives, Mark will donate the ex-training vehicle, bought from the Service, to the main hospital and spend a week training staff there how to use the equipment on board.
Mark, aged 30, of Morden, said: “The vehicle was being decommissioned and, having heard about the event before, I thought it would be a really good idea to drive it there and then donate it.
“Senegal is very short of medical equipment and has almost no ambulances—in Dakar they only have one for a million people so this will be really useful to them and will be their main ambulance.”
Mark will start the journey on 23 December with his girlfriend Viv and friend Julian, each of whom has ploughed around £1,000 into paying for some of the trip, but the group are hoping to raise a further £1,500 through donations to fund the rest of the cost.
They will spend Christmas Day in Paris before traveling on to Marrakech in Morocco in time for New Year’s Day.
But not all the locations will be so enjoyable—along with spending much of the time sleeping in the back of the ambulance, the group face a hazardous three-day trip across the Sahara desert.
Mark said: “We will make sure we do that part of the journey with some of the other vehicles taking part in the rally. It would be too dangerous to do it on your own as there are bandits out there who would target an ambulance because they know it would have medicine on board.
“That aside, I think overall it will be an incredible experience and a very worthy one as the ambulance is much needed and should really benefit the people in Dakar.”
Mark is hoping to raise money to equip and prepare the vehicle for the journey. Donations can be made to a special account:
Account name: Whitf&Lind
Sort code: 40-02-44
Account number: 71723405
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Notes to editors
For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7921 5113.
Mark is tracking his progress at http://ambulanceantics.spaces.live.com/.
The rally’s main website can be found at http://www.plymouth-dakar.co.uk/.