Miami Beach ambulances will be helping the sick and injured in Haiti

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By Sam Stanton
The Miami Herald

MIAMI, USA (MCT) — Two big red fire rescue trucks sat atop the hot black asphalt at Shake-A-Leg Miami in Coconut Grove this week while they received a little TLC in preparation for a new life in Haiti.

White painted letters on the side of the trucks offered a bilingual message: "A GIFT FROM YOUR NEIGHBORS- YON KADO DE VWAZEN W."

And also: "MIAMI BEACH (hrt) HAITI."

The finishing touches are being performed on the two Freightliners, which were donated by the city of Miami Beach and will will be shipped to Haiti some time next week.

The city’s amubulances will be donated to Project Medishare for Haiti, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare and trains medical personnel in the Caribbean country.

The Beach’s ambulances will replace the inadequate flatbed and pick-up trucks that Project Medishare has been using — spruced up and outfitted with better shock absorbers to withstand Haiti’s rough roads.

"It was a travesty. We as a city wanted to respond," said Miami Beach Commissioner Edward Tobin, who spearheaded the fundraising effort to send ambulances to the earthquake-ravaged nation.

Miami Beach politicians came together and rocked out on May 22 at the Rock for Haiti benefit concert at the Byron Carlyle Theater. The concert was originally intended to fund the ambulance project.

But after the concert, Kenneth Batchelor vice president of field operations at CMC Construction, offered to do the necessary work to refurbish the ambulances at cost.

Miami Beach decided to donate the ambulances — as well as the $16,000 raised at from the concert — to Project Medishare for Haiti. The non-profit was co-founded by Dr. Barth Green, a doctor, philanthropist and professor at the University of Miami. Project Medishare for Haiti is dedicated to creating healthcare resources and training healthcare professionals in the Caribbean country.

Ronald Boge, Green’s colleague and an assistant vice president of facilities and construction for the Miller School of Medicine at University of Miami, has been traveling back and forth to Haiti over the past eight months.

"We’d been transporting patients on flatbeds and pick-up trucks," said Boge.

Boge said the ambulances would allow Medishare to transport patients to Bernard MevsHospital, where they now have sterile operating rooms, intensive care units and prosthetic units for those who lost limbs during the earthquake or due to infections that set in after the disaster.

Commissioner Tobin and Batchelor discussed upgrades that would better equip the ambulances for the roads in Haiti.

"We gave them extra heavy duty shocks," said Batchelor. "We’re beefing up the air suspension because it’s going to take a beating. They’ll be road worthy when the get out of here."

Copyright (c) 2010, The Miami Herald
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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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