OGDEN, Utah – Lisa Trujillo doesn’t get upset at being called an ambulance chaser. After all, the title fits.
Trujillo, a respiratory therapy instructor at Weber State University, organizes and leads frequent humanitarian trips to the African nation of Ghana. Attempting to defray the costs of ground transportation associated with those trips, Trujillo was in the market for a used bus she could purchase and ship to Ghana.
That’s when Trujillo came across a classified ad for an ambulance North View Fire Department was selling online.
“My intentions shifted pretty quickly,” Trujillo said. “Instead of ground transportation, I suddenly saw an opportunity to create a mobile clinic that also could transport patients from rural areas to hospital facilities if needed.”
When Trujillo approached the North View Fire Department and explained what she was doing, “they were very interested and willing to work” with her. She purchased the ambulance for $3,000, well below the asking price or actual market value.
“Then through the generosity of Ogden Fire, I was able to obtain a gurney and have it installed at no cost to me,” Trujillo said. The Ogden Fire Department donated the installation labor and parts in addition to the gurney.
Two local Boy Scouts are organizing their Eagle Scout projects around filling the ambulance with the necessary supplies for it to function as a mobile clinic.
With the rig fully outfitted and ready to go, Trujillo is now working to raise the funds necessary to ship the ambulance to Ghana. She estimates the total transport cost will be between $3,500 and $4,000, plus duties and fees once it arrives in Ghana.
Trujillo’s outreach to Ghana began in the spring of 2005, when one of her students, Albert Ncancer, asked her to travel to his homeland and “teach his people.” By the following year Trujillo had collected more than $150,000 worth of donated medical equipment, blankets and educational supplies — enough to fill a large 20-foot shipping container. Since then, she has shipped three additional containers ranging in size from 20 to 40 feet long, all filled with donated items.
Trujillo traveled to Ghana with a small delegation of WSU students who assisted her with dispensing the supplies. Since that first experience in 2006, Trujillo has organized and led five similar humanitarian trips to Ghana, where she visits hospitals, clinics, orphanages and schools, distributing much-needed supplies. On subsequent trips, Trujillo has developed relationships with chiefs and local leaders who assist her in going into small villages where she and her students offer vision screenings, CPR and neonatal resuscitation training, and basic medical care education. She also has helped train local health care practitioners during her visits.
“A bus for transportation is going to have to wait,” Trujillo said. “This mobile clinic will meet an even more pressing need.”
Anyone interested in assisting in with the cost of shipping the ambulance may contact Trujillo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-626-6834.
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