I need an ambulance

In my second audio diary, I talk about the difficulty people have reaching the MSF hospital.


I am in the MSF car now heading out of town to go and visit a health centre that’s out in the countryside.

As you leave town here, you always climb up into the hills, it’s incredibly beautiful, very stunning scenery, very, very dry, yellows and browns, and really very hot.

We’re going out to this health centre because it’s an hour or so away from MSF hospital, and they’re receiving casualties most days from Bahmain from airstrikes. But also they have patients in the area who have problems with child birth, children with malnutrition and children with malaria who need to come and be referred to hospital.

The main priority for me is to look at this place and to work out how we can get these people from where they are into the MSF hospital for treatment.

It used to be before, that if a patient needed to come to hospital they would be told to find their own way and they would have to try and find a car or space in the pick up and be driven down to the MSF hospital about an hour away.

Fuel shortages

There are real problems with that right now. Fuel is in shortage throughout the whole of Yemen. It’s very expensive to find and it’s really difficult if you need to come anywhere to find somebody to take you at an affordable price.

The other problem we have is that the roads are targeted every day. Cars, normal cars, are often hit along the road now.

I can see, every sort of 500 metres or so, a bombed up car, another bombed petrol station, another truck.


A burning truck in Yemen
A burning truck

It means, it’s really impossible to find somebody with a car who’s willing to take a patient, particularly in an emergency for an hour on these roads. Particularly if there’s been an airstrike, a plane has been hitting, no one in a normal car is willing to drive on the road, when there is a plane flying overhead.

So my plan to try and solve this situation is to set up an ambulance system. I want to find some cars that we can equip and mark as ambulances, MSF will pay for the fuel and we will make sure that if there’s a sick patient somewhere further away from the MSF hospital we can get those patients back to us.

Need for ambulances

It won't be that easy. It’s not always easy to find good quality cars and to try and find people who are willing to drive them, as ambulances might not always be straight forward thing in the world. But I think we can help out with that. We can mark them as ‘ambulance’, we can try to reassure them that for security, we do as much as we can, so that they can be spotted from the air. And hopefully they won’t be targeted by the airstrikes.

I think it’s one of the most life saving things we can do right now. I hear stories all the time of women dying at home in child birth because they just couldn’t get to hospital.

Children who really are very sick and they go to the health centre and the health centre send them home knowing that they are going to die, but they just can’t get them for a better quality of treatment.

That's besides all the injuries that we see every day, that really, really, really need surgery and it's very complicated to get them where they need to go.

This is my plan today, and it’s probably another 30 minutes in the car until I get to this health post. Driving along the roads, there’s been planes flying overhead but they haven’t for the last hour.

So I am hoping it stays quiet, I have a big MSF flag on top of the car, again for me that's my security and I hope the pilots have good vision.