Paramedic swaps Wales for Africa on aid mission

29th April 2022

A NORTH Wales paramedic has been putting her skills to good use on an aid mission in Africa.

Esther Dittmar, based in Dobshill, Flintshire, flew 6,500 miles to Uganda last month to help locals to expand its motorbike ambulance service.

Esther was part of a seven-strong group of volunteers who flew out with the Partnerships Overseas Networking Trust (PONT), a Pontypridd based charity supporting projects in Mbale.

As well as exploring ways to grow the motorbike service, Esther and her fellow volunteers, including a GP and a mental health nurse, planned the future delivery of training for the region’s health workers.

Esther, 30, said: “It was a privilege to be part of this trip and to contribute my ideas and suggestions about how to improve the ambulance service in Mbale.

“Medically, it was so different to the everyday work we do here in Wales, and culturally, it was different too.

“From a paramedic perspective, I was excited to plan the training for health workers and it will be interesting to keep in touch to hear about how ambulance provision is evolving in the region.”

The Welsh Ambulance Service has worked in partnership with PONT since 2009, during which time dozens of its frontline staff have journeyed to Mbale to support projects.

Mbale is a mountainous area with many villages only accessible by steep paths, and many people live a long way from the nearest hospital or health centre.

With PONT’s support, Mbale has introduced motorbike ambulances to carry patients across even the roughest ground on roads and tracks that cars and other vehicles cannot access.

German-born Esther originally pursued a career in marketing and came to the UK as part of a student exchange programme to take up studies at Wrexham’s Glyndwr University.

She later enrolled on the paramedic science degree at Swansea University, having grown disillusioned with working behind a desk in her digital marketing job.

Esther has been a paramedic at the Welsh Ambulance Service for three years, and Uganda is the latest in a series of trips that she has made abroad to help others.

As well as a placement in Germany, Esther journeyed to
Mexico for a month-long placement as part of an international exchange programme and has penned a series of articles about her experiences, including for the College of Paramedics and International Paramedic Practice magazines.

Esther, who lives in Chester, said: “If you have the opportunity, I think it’s really important for clinicians to experience the way that other communities deliver services.

“It broadens your horizons not just in terms of the clinical knowledge you acquire, but in terms of the life experience that you gain.

“The lifelong friends you make along the way are an added bonus.”

Fiona Lambrecht, Duty Operations Manager in Flintshire and Wrexham, said: “Esther is a shining example of compassion in action, and she’s not only committed to patients in the Flintshire community but those less fortunate in Africa too.

“She goes above and beyond to help others, and we’re so proud that she took the initiative to volunteer in the Mbale community and look forward to hearing all about the trip.”

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Editor’s Notes

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