Four years after first making the request, the Sunland-Tujunga Rotary Club has been given the go-ahead to purchase a surplus ambulance from the city of Los Angeles that it plans to refurbish and donate to the city of Ensenada, Mexico.
"The process has moved rather slowly, but it looks like maybe in a couple of weeks we will be able to get our hands on it," said Joe Cohen, president of the Rotary Club.
Cohen said the ambulance was intended to be used as an emergency rescue vehicle at the Bufadora tourist attraction, a natural blowhole on the Pacific Coast of Mexico just outside of Ensenada. However, Cohen said, the Rotary Club has lost contact with the authorities at Bufadora during the four-year interim and is not sure a need for the vehicle still exists.
"We're going to try to talk to them this week," Cohen said. "If we don't give it to them, we will find another worthy group."
The sale of the ambulance, a 1989 Chevrolet with an approximate value of $2,500, was approved by the City Council this week in a motion introduced by Councilman Joel Wachs. The cost: $1.
"It's not uncommon for the city to sell surplus material in this way," said Gail Koretz, a spokesperson for Wachs. "The problem is it can take a long time for the city to make available surplus vehicles. There's a waiting list because of the big demand."
Cohen said the Rotary Club regularly supports charitable causes in Mexico, including a pediatric clinic in Mexicali, but that the ambulance project is a first.
He got his first look at the ambulance a couple of weeks ago when it was displayed with other surplus vehicles being sold by the city at a North Hollywood fire station. "It looked like it was in pretty good shape," Cohen said. "Once we put some work into it, it can do some people a lot of good."