Dan McNulty, a firefighter with North Wales Fire & Rescue Service and a Special Inspector for North Wales Police and Darren Armour; Temporary Special Chief Inspector are both members of the International Police Association. They have volunteered their time to join emergency service personnel from around the UK and Europe to travel in September 2022 from the UK, via France and Spain through the Northwest of the African continent, all the way to the capital of The Gambia, Banjul, in order to deliver twenty five ambulances, fire engines and support vehicles.
Dan said “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help our emergency services family on another part of the world. All they want to do is help their local communities just like we help ours. I knew straight away I needed to be involved and contribute. I have been on an amazing journey so far, showing some of the generosity of people out there, even in some of the toughest times we have faced. The final preparations are underway ready for September, and whilst driving a fire engine across the Sahara Desert is going to be a challenge, the reward will be worth it!”
The levels of infant mortality in The Gambia are unacceptably high; they are one of the highest in the world and are now the highest in Africa. UNICEF state that over 1 in 20 children between one month and five years of age die, and 1 in 5 new-borns will die within the first 4 weeks of life. These figures are even higher in rural areas. The levels of infection through wounds and amputations are some of the highest in the world, with many people living with open wounds and broken bones, which the resulting infections then ultimately kill them.
Queues outside the main city hospital are not made up with ambulances, but wheelbarrows containing women in labour, Mules transporting injured civilians from neighbouring villages and injured people being carried into the nearest hospital, which may be over 40 miles away.
The state of the fire and rescue service is not much better, with the main fire station in Banjul containing 3 fire appliances, one of which had been involved with a head on collision with a HGV, the other has broken down a long time ago and the 3rd is now aging and needs replacing. Firefighters sit awaiting their fire calls, hoping they will be able to respond and help with the very limited equipment and vehicles they have.
The intent of Operation Zephyr is to provide functioning, decommissioned emergency vehicles, radios, equipment, uniforms and training to this emerging but very poor African nation on the west coast of Africa. Organised by the UK’s Emergency Services Aid Charity, and working with the International Police Association the operation aims to make a positive change to Gambia, and help our fellow emergency service staff give the best service they can.
North Wales Police Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki said, “As National Lead for the Special Constabulary, Darren and Dan demonstrate the dedication of our officers not only in their volunteer work within Policing but also in other worthwhile initiatives such as Operation Zephyr.”
Whilst they’ve already raised an amazing £2,500; Darren and Dan are asking for any support or donations you are able to give to help them reach their target of £5000 required to help fund this much needed convoy. This can be done through the just giving page link below. Alternatively, if you’re able to help donate equipment, PPE, clothing or even a vehicle! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with them. Any support is greatly appreciated.