Three more deliveries! – 31,32,33

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine we’ve been buying ambulances, loading them up, and then delivering them to hospitals across Ukraine. All in all a well organised operation but, every once in a while there is something that we was not expecting!

Past missions have seen an ambulance break down on the side of an Autobahn. All the vehicles, before they go, are fully serviced, get an MOT if needed, and are sent fully insured and with breakdown cover. In order to maximise our efforts, we buy vehicles that are in very good order but have reached the end of their UK life. Typically, anything between 150,000 and 200,000 miles is not untypical.

 When we broke down the German police arrived almost immediately. Their first concern was the safety of the two drivers and the other high speed road users. The vehicle was at the back of a convoy, so the remainder did not have chance to stop, but we did keep in contact – even if some drivers wanted to apply “Top Gear rules”.

The police were great! Not only did they make sure the drivers were safe, but they even arranged a tow truck (at no charge) and towed it to the nearest main police station where it could be stored safely and with all its load still onboard.

After a nice dinner in the police canteen the drivers realised the fix was going to take longer. Plans were made to get them home and on our next mission we had an extra passenger in two of the vehicles and managed to pick up the stranded ambulance and get it on its way.

On our trips we’ve met so many people from so many countries doing the same as Help4Ukraine. The spirit of camaraderie at a fuel and coffee stop is great. People swapping stories, very briefly, and then on our way.

For our July mission we perhaps have a story to tell the next time we meet someone in Poland or Germany who is from France, or Spain, or Netherlands.

The mission set off with two ambulances. Filled as before with medical aid and equipment, much of it kindly donated by the North Cotswolds Rotary Club. Help4Ukraine is the delivery agent for several groups in this way.

En-route we  were to collect a Polish registered ambulance and deliver that to. Previously everything we have delivered has been a UK vehcile. We know all the paperwork we need, and have this in French, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian. So why should this be any different?

Having queued for four hours – that’s better than on some missions – we were asked by the border force for an additional form, one we have never had before. It seems it was not the fact we were shipping aid and vehicles to Ukraine that was the issue, rather the country of origin meant more paperwork.

Sadly, negotiations got us nowhere. Driving back from the border we went to a town where we could arrange the additional paperwork. Hardly a five-minute-job as it means more vehcile checks. Duly done, we returned to the border, for a four hour wait again. Combined this now probably makes the longest border wait, and remember humanitarian aid is fast-tracked!

Relief sets in as we cross the border. Two vehicles already handed over and the two drivers now very relaxed after their very long day. Well fed and now enjoying some downtime. The final vehcile arrived almost half a day later. A complete inventory check at handover is something we always insist on and, despite the delay, we made sure this still happened.

Suitably rested all three drivers bedded down for what was left of the night before a return across the border on Sunday and a flight home.

At Help4Ukraine we’re always learning and always improving. At least we now know what a SOX Form is!

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