January 16th, 2021

Council approves donation of ambulance to Los Amigos

By Kalinowski, Tim on May 6, 2020.

Rotarian Michael Henderson helps clean up an ambulance as part of last year’s Los Amigos Project expedition. City council has approved the donation of a decommissioned ambulance for this year's project after being assured no other community in Alberta could make use of it. Herald file photo by Tim Kalinowski

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


City council unanimously approved the donation of a decommissioned ambulance to the Sunrise Rotary Club Los Amigos Project after being assured no other community in Alberta could make use of it.

Council had originally intended to approve the donation at its last regular meeting in April, but some councillors expressed concerns that the ambulance might have a more local use in neighbouring communities given the increased need during a pandemic. Others on council also wanted to know how the Rotarians planned to get the ambulance, valued at about $8,000, to Mexico given the border remains closed. Thus the vote on the donation was deferred until Monday’s meeting.

Doug Thornton, co-chair of the administrative committee for the Los Amigos Project, was able to answer both questions to council’s satisfaction.

Thornton told council the original date the Los Amigos Project caravan was set to depart for Mexico was Oct. 18, and it would then return to Canada on Oct. 31. He hoped the border restrictions would be eased by that time, and he and the other volunteer drivers were prepared to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return if that was required by the Alberta Health Services. If the border was not open by that time, Thornton said the caravan would be postponed until a future date.

“We’re not going to break any (travel) rules, and we’re certainly not going to put our members at any kind of a risk in transporting south to Mexico,” stated Thornton. “So some day we will get them down there. Hopefully this year, but we’ll see.”

Upon the question of local use, Thornton explained that once an ambulance has been decommissioned by a municipality in Alberta it could not be licensed for medical use through AHS in any other Alberta community.

“Alberta Health Services controls the ambulance in the province of Alberta, and they have complete control over how many ambulances are available to be used,” explained Thornton. “Once they are deemed surplus by their owners, they are no longer entitled to be used as ambulances. Even to be part of a rodeo, as an example, so if someone was hurt there they could be brought to the hospital. It can’t even be used for that. So it is surplus, and it can’t even be used in Alberta – but in Mexico it is a different story. It makes a huge difference to these small communities who couldn’t even dream of having anything as valuable as our surplus ambulances.”

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