Edmonton chiropractor answers emergency call for ambulance in Belize

A decommissioned ambulance that has clocked over 200,000 kilometres transporting patients in Alberta, is going back to work, this time in central America.

'It will make a big difference in this community. It will save many many lives'

Roman Bayrock bought a 20-year-old ambulance in 2016 to donate to a hospital in Belize. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

A decommissioned ambulance that has clocked over 200,000 kilometres transporting patients in Alberta, is going back to work, this time in the Central American country of Belize.

Roman Bayrock paid for the 1996 ambulance and an Edmonton garage fixed it up for free. The Edmonton Riverview Rotary Club is helping pay to get the ambulance to Belize.

The Edmonton chiropractor will himself deliver the ambulance to a town hospital which cannot afford to buy its own.
Roman Bayrock bought a used ambulance and is driving it to Miami, Fla. where it will be sent on a barge to Belize. 0:46

"Dangriga is one of the few towns that has a hospital and they have two ambulances there and both ambulances are broken and they can't afford to fix them," Bayrock said.

He will also take with him other supplies ranging from computers, school equipment, shoes and even sewing machines.

The Ministry of Health in Belize has written to thank Bayrock for his efforts and local people in Dangriga are thrilled an ambulance is on its way.

"It will make a big difference in this community," said Judith Williams, who is with the Rotary Club in Dangriga. "It will save many, many lives."
Roman Bayrock was in Belize in November to help build a playground. (Supplied)

Williams said injured or sick people currently rely on their families and friends to drive them to hospital in private vehicles.

"If you need to get somebody from one point to the next and you cannot, or cannot take them in the fashion they should be taken, there is a slimmer chance of them surviving," she said.

Bayrock will set out on a marathon journey from Edmonton to Miami, on Jan. 15.

Once in Miami, the ambulance will be loaded on a barge, taking about five days to get to Belize.

It's not the first ambulance Bayrock has delivered to the country. In a previous mission to Belize, Bayrock delivered another ambulance, now part of the fleet in Belize City.
Roman Bayrock says the donated ambulance is in good working order and can still provide years of use even though it's 20 years old. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

"It just makes me feel better that I can help someone where the needs are the greatest," he said.

During 11 visits to Belize, Bayrock fell in love with the country's sailing, scuba diving and beaches, as well as the people who tell him about their daily struggles.   

"It's an emerging economy. It's doing better than a lot of places, but there are still very, very high areas of poverty," he said.

Bayrock was in Belize as recently as November helping to build a playground.

He's already planning his next project: raising money for a used fire truck for another town in Belize.