Page last updated at 06:02 GMT, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 07:02 UK

Welsh ambulance help for Ugandans

Julian Newton (left) and Andrew Pipien
Julian Newton and Andrew Pipien paid for their own trip to Uganda

A deprived region of Uganda may soon have its own ambulance service after two paramedics from south Wales offered specialist advice during a visit there.

Julian Newton and Andrew Pipien, from Pontypridd, visited Mbale to try to help improve emergency services.

They discussed starting a First Responders scheme - similar to what has been set up in Wales - where volunteers are trained to help casualties.

They also uncovered a mothballed ambulance that can be repaired.

The two friends travelled with the Partnerships Overseas Networking Trust (Pont) scheme, which was set up to link Pontypridd with Mbale.

The partnership has so far seen 100 visits made by Welsh professionals and organisations to the African country to share knowledge and expertise in a bid to improve standards of health, education and other services.

Of all the countries I visited in Africa I was struck by the friendliness of the people of Uganda
Andrew Pipien

Mr Newton, 41, who is a paramedic supervisor with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, was asked to go on the 10-day trip to Mbale by a local GP with a view to seeing what could be done to establish a basic ambulance service.

During the visit he and Mr Pipien, 43, a technician, were introduced to health and council officials with whom links had already been forged.

"I'd never done anything like it before and it was pretty daunting," said Mr Newton.

"All we expected to do on our first visit was to explore the possibilities but we achieved much more than that and the whole thing went fantastically well," said Mr Newton.

They were shown an old ambulance which stood covered in dust which had not been used for years but which could be repaired and used for the service in Mbale.


They also spoke to staff at a health clinic who agreed that an ambulance which they had available could be put to wider use.

The two colleagues also discussed how a scheme similar to the First Responder scheme in this country in which volunteers are trained to assist casualties, could be set up in the local communities.

A training programme is now expected to follow.

"The way Pont works is to create sustainable improvements and not to try to introduce a quick-fix, and that is why we want to ensure that there are enough trainers in place," said Mr Newton, who has been in the ambulance service since 1989.

"We really didn't expect to make such progress and it was very satisfying to be able to get so much done."

Mr Pipien said he was keen to go after visiting Uganda on a backpacking holiday about 14 years ago.

"Of all the countries I visited in Africa I was struck by the friendliness of the people of Uganda so I told Julian I would go with him," he said.

One of his projects now is to raise about 7,000 to purchase a third ambulance for the region.

An evening of entertainment is planned for Pontypridd and District Club on 23 August.

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