The wheels on the bus don’t always go round and round!

Having now successfully delivered 35 ambulances, and one fire engine, Help4Ukraine’s team is well versed in dealing with issues. Whilst, very often, everything goes according to plan, there is always that moment when we have to adapt a little.

The team is well prepared in terms of all the paperwork needed – in French, Polish, English and Ukrainian. Everything from the vehicle documentation and permits, bills of loading, insurance, even handover documentation from us to Save Kyiv, and onto the final hospital. Nothing is left to chance. What we can’t always control is the weather, the queues at the border, or vehicles deciding to take matters into their own hands.

Our latest mission to deliver two more ambulances will be the last trip to Lviv, and beyond, until after our dinner in October.

Leaving the UK

The team of five set of in two vehicles. Ordinarily it would be two per vehicle but for this trip we had special reason to take with us a passenger. The journey across the water through day one and the night went well, save for a slight vibration at the back of one of the ambulances. As night wore onto day it became more noticeable and, in the early hours, we identified the cause as a deformation of the steel belts causing the centre ribs to become oval.  Yes, that really is a thing!

The fix was to drive a little slower and find a tyre shop. Feedback from the border suggested our normal crossing was busier than usual – it’s never not busy to be honest! So, a new crossing was needed too. Mark set about the task with his usual aplomb and, en-route, we even had the opportunity to visit a short stay hostel.

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At the Hope Foundation we met the team that run the hostel, all completely for free and all volunteers. Guests are allowed to stay only for a few days and there the team help them find a longer-term option, in countries across Europe.

Just after that, a new tyre, and we are on our way. This time to a new border crossing and one we heard that had a shorter queue.

The border crossing and the curfew!

The border crossing went okay. That is if you include emptying completely both vehicles and having the entire cargo checked. In a baking hot day, with the border guard not of a mind to rush, all our efforts to secure a quick crossing soon evaporated. We did manage to bribe him with a can of fizzy drink but seemed not to spur him to any great rush.

Eight hours later and we were through the border. Across Ukraine there is a midnight curfew. We had now crossed with a one-hour drive ahead of us and it was around 11 p.m. We had to hand over one vehicle that night, check into our hotel, oh and perhaps a first proper meal in 48 hours! Driving as fast and as safely as we could we made it to Lviv about ten minutes before curfew and conducted a speedy handover. Instead of the thorough check our new driver undertook a random check – the border guard had done his job for him!

The driver was soon on his way. Allowed to drive after midnight thanks to his military credentials.

Soon we were able to check into the hotel and grab a fantastic shish kebab! There are times in life when this is the only food that can make all the difference. Today was one of those days!

By now you’ll notice that we still have not handed over the second ambulance, nor have we explained who our passenger is.

More about all that later!….

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