Dominican Republic: Safe driving and effective fleet management

Published: 9 August 2013 15:02 CET

The Dominican Red Cross has been running its ambulance service since 1937, with a fleet of 47 ambulances delivering services to 34,000 people in an average year.

In 2012, the Dominican Red Cross took a decision to upgrade their ambulance fleet. They knew the initiative would require top-quality ambulance equipment, rugged vehicles and above all, relevant training. In April 2012, the Dominican Red Cross turned to the IFRC’s Global Logistics Service (GLS) to discuss their needs and to explore possibilities for closer cooperation with its Global Fleet Service.

The IFRC’s global fleet coordinator and head of the logistics unit for the Americas visited the Dominican Republic to assess the needs on the ground, engage in discussions with the National Society’s general director and agree on the cooperation framework.

A few months later, both sides signed an agreement, the scope of which included cooperation in two main areas: delivery of eight ambulances with required accessories and five additional Nissan vehicles through the IFRC’s vehicle rental programme (VRP), as well as a training programme.

Tailor-made training builds capacity

While the new vehicles were in transit to their final destination, the GLS Global Fleet Service embarked on developing a road safety and fleet management training package for the Dominican Red Cross. The training – which now combines the two fleet components of Toyota Land Cruiser ambulances and Nissan Navara Pick-ups – was tailor-made to specifically address the National Society’s fleet needs.
As soon as the new vehicles arrived in the Dominican Republic, GLS deployed its fleet specialist team to carry out the training. Experts from the vehicle manufacturing company were also invited to facilitate part of the training. Twenty participants from the Dominican Red Cross spent five days refreshing and practising their driving skills in difficult terrain, and learning how to operate all the equipment associated with the ambulances.

The programme also covered training for Nissan Navara units under the IFRC’s vehicle rental programme. Staff learnt valuable skills ranging from recovery to how to jump-start a vehicle backwards down a mountain.

Talking about the training, Dominican Red Cross General Director, Arq. Gustavo Lara said: “The Dominican Red Cross encourages staff development activities and strongly believes this training will benefit Red Cross staff in terms of advancing their driving skills, and ultimately helping those in need of medical assistance in the Dominican Republic. This training enhances our capacity to save lives on our roads and provides a framework to manage our road safety risk as an organization, whilst investing in the skills of individual drivers.”
The IFRC’s global fleet coordinator Nenad Gobeljic said: “The GLS attaches great importance to fleet training activities and this training in the Dominican Republic was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how the purpose-built Land Cruiser ambulances are suited for difficult terrain, and how driving risk can be mitigated by developing the right skills from the start.

“We are very happy about the cooperation with the Dominican Red Cross and we look forward to contributing our fleet expertise and support to our National Societies, towards the achievement of common humanitarian goals.”

Global fleet services most cost-effective solution

With operations in more than 80 countries, the IFRC’s Global Logistics Service manages a fleet of over 1,100 vehicles. The service introduced ambulance vehicles through its vehicle rental programme in 2010.

Since then, seven National Societies have acquired and are currently operating 50 ambulances. Deploying ambulances through the IFRC's vehicle rental programme is considered to be the most cost-effective solution for National Societies.
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