They’ve got a school, a hospital and what was once the longest airport runway in the world.
Now people living on Ascension Island, a remote British Overseas Territory in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, have finally got a state-of-the-art civilian ambulance.
The population of just under 700 – including 90 children – will benefit from a new vehicle supplied by Cartwright Conversions more than 4,400 miles away in Doncaster, UK.
Until it arrived at the island’s port of Georgetown the only medical transport available was a “very basic” military-style Land Rover with no medical equipment on-board.
Cartwright Conversions won the contract to supply the vehicle, complete with a defibrillator and oxygen supply, after the Ascension Island’s Government put out a tender asking for the equivalent of an NHS frontline ambulance.
They supplied an ex-demonstration model with extra equipment and a well-proven powerful engine that could cope with the climb from the island’s port of Georgetown to the inland settlement of Two Boats which is home to the school.
Nathan Millington, Director of Operations and Facilities, for the Ascension Island Government, said: “We’re more than happy with it – it’s a very, very impressive bit of kit. It’s a quantum leap forward from what we had before. It’s nice to have something that’s of such a high standard.
“I was in the UK before Christmas and I went to meet the guys at Cartwright Conversions and I was really impressed with the amount of effort they have put into this, considering that we were just purchasing one vehicle whereas typically an NHS trust would replace an entire fleet.
“Cartwright went over and above to get this on the road and they kept us updated with what they were doing. They went the extra mile and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
“As you can imagine, it’s really hard work getting anything here but this project pretty much ran itself.”
Delivering the ambulance to the far-flung island, a strategically important air base for the Americans in World War II, the British in the Falklands War and NASA which earmarked it as an emergency landing spot for the space shuttle, was another challenge.
Due to its remote location one thousand miles off the coast of Africa and even farther – 1,400 miles – from South America, the ocean swell can make it one of the most dangerous cargo landings in the world.
The vehicle was sent out on a cargo ship that anchors off Ascension on the way to the Falkland Islands, then had to complete the last sea mile on a flat barge before being lifted by crane onto shore.
Steve Shaw, Managing Director of Cartwright Conversions said: “This was definitely one of our more unusual requests and we were delighted to help out the people living on Ascension Island by supplying them with a fully-equipped ambulance.
“We are proud of our conversions and the ambulance has a robust design that should serve them very well for many years to come.”
The ambulance was funded by the Global Britain Fund and the UK Government.
Cartwright Conversions produces a number of specialised vehicles including ambulances, patient transport, police and security, welfare and other bespoke conversions.