Erik Vogel was crushed this morning, when he discovered vandals had graffitied an ambulance bound for Nicaragua in two days.
The Langley resident and Lower Mainland firefighter has arranged a pair of older, decommissioned ambulances to be loaded up with everything from first aid supplies to baseball uniforms. They are set to depart for Central America on Wednesday.
The trip, which has been more than a year in the planning, is part of Operation Nicaragua, a humanitarian program that tries to take decommissioned emergency equipment and supplies – including ambulances and fire trucks – from North America down to Nicaragua – where they typically don’t have any such equipment.
It’s a cause close to Vogel’s heart, who’s travelled down a few times over the years.
He and his girlfriend, Gaby Olson, will be driving one of the two ambulances down to south. But it’s the damage to that ambulance that has literally winded the firefighter.
Saturday or Sunday night, someone took spray paint and drew on the side of the ambulance. But the worst part of the damage, he said, came when paint thinner was randomly splashed along the side of the vehicle.
This time last year, the 1998 ambulance – donated by MedTech EMS in Delta – was blessed by Father James Kairu at Langley’s St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.
At that time, it was explained that the ambulance was dedicated in honour of Olson’s mother Yvonne Van Rossum.
Sadly the graffiti has defaced that written tribute to Van Rossum, Vogel said.
“I’m crushed. It’s such a bizarre thing to attack,” he added.
“I have no idea why, or what to do about it,” Vogel told the Langley Advance. “It’s such a shame.”
But a short time later, Ian Thompson of 911 Filmcars, stepped up to help. Thompson, who donated the second ambulance going down on this trip (done so in the honour of his late friend Kathy Cadwell), is going to try to repair the damage before the team leaves early Wednesday morning.
Vogel just hopes the damage can be undone in time.
He described the incident as a random, and odd attack. Nothing else in the neighbourhood was touched, and that’s the first time he’s aware of any such vandalism in his Langley City block.
He’s optimistic no other hurdles will come up before the team of four volunteers set off on their trek.
Vogel anticipates travelling to a small town south of Mexico City in about four days, where they’re hoping to drop off water purification tablets, toiletry kits, and some first aid supplies to help the village that was devastated by a recent earthquake.
Then, he said, it’s off to Nicaragua. He expected it will take at least 10 days to get to the final destination, depending on how it goes at the different border crossings.