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Volunteers Bring Ambulance to Guatemala

McCAMMON - After spending two years as a missionary in Guatemala, Jesse Dredge saw firsthand the needs of impoverished people there.

When he came back home to Malad, he did not forget what he had witnessed.

On Monday, Dredge, 24, and his friend and fellow Oneida County resident, Paul Oja, will start their journey to Guatemala to deliver an ambulance, filled with supplies.

The idea to bring a functional and modern ambulance to Guatemala came to Dredge during a visit there recently with his father, Louis.

"They had a Toyota truck... with a cage on the back and a mattress on the floor as their ambulance," he said. "( My dad) mentioned, 'Boy, it's too bad that they use that for an ambulance. We retire ambulances all the time in Idaho and the United States. It's too bad we can't bring the ambulances down (here).'"

The seed was planted. In February, Dredge found out that Oneida County was retiring an ambulance. The Dredges went to the county to see if they could acquire it.

"I showed them pictures of what they had there (in Guatemala) and then I told them of the good it could do," he said.

Dredge told the ambulance board that if he could acquire the ambulance, he would also work to get medical supplies for it. He explained that the rural area had clinics that were miles apart and that transportation between medical facilities was often difficult.

Dredge began to fund raise and gather supplies. A website --www.911-guatemala.org --was developed and they talked to a nonprofit based in Twin Falls and Bountiful, Utah, Charity Anywhere Foundation, which adopted them. An Ogden dentist, Thane Hales, used his contacts to help raise funds.

They went back to the county commission and put in a bid for $2,000. But the J.R. Simplot Co. expressed an interest in the ambulance as well and bid $5,000.

"At a county commissioners meeting, it had to be decided which bid would be taken, $5,000 bid or the $2,000 bid. The ambulance board showed up (in support ) and Malad really came out and showed their charitable side and generosity," Dredge said.

The county commissioners sold the ambulance to Dredge's organization for $3,000 less than the higher bid.

Malad citizens have now contributedmorethan$1,000 toward getting the vehicle in ship-shape and helping with supplies. Dredge figures the total fundraising for the ambulance now stands at approximately $7,000.

And on Monday, Oja and Dredge will be off.

"It's a 50-hour drive. We're giving ourselves eight days," he said.

Once they arrive in La Tinta, they will donate the ambulance to the hospital and will help the hospital in some training. And the money the project has raised will help build a school in the village.

"We're doing all this with the money that's been raised. This has really got a ball rolling," he said. "A lot of people talk about what's going to be next, 'Can I go next year?' And there's going to be a next year, for sure."



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