Our story

Vientiane Rescue is the first and only Rescue service of Vientiane, Laos

Thanks to the dedication and amazing commitment of our non-paid volunteers, we are able to provide any kind of emergency services, on a 24/7 basis, for free.

We started in 2010, with a handful of volunteers, most of them underaged. A group of wholehearted people with a lot of hope and expectations, and nothing else. At the time we all met, the Foundation we belong to got a donation: a brand new ambulance. We decided to immediately start a 24/7 FREE ambulance service in September 2010. Vientiane Rescue was born. In any other western country, starting such a service without gazoline, sponsorship, training nor equipment would have been called a suicide. But in Vientiane, road traffic accident victims were left dying on the side of the road. The needs were already huge at that time. We were the first, we couldn’t afford to waste time.

At the very beginning, we always arrived on accident places too late, under staffed, under trained and under equipped. Our service, sadly, was everything but an ambulance service. We knew it, we realised this every single day spent on the roads. But we had to cope with our own means. At that time, so many lives were lost. So many times our ambulance was crowded with three or four seriously injured victims because we had only one vehicle. So many times we couldn’t restrain our tears witnessing victims dying in our arms because of the lack of specialized equipment. So many times the ambulance was running with one single volunteer because the sadness and hardness of our service was too high for us to be able to recruit more people. Would like to join such a service, under such conditions?

Nobody would…and just a few did. After a whole year, we managed to have a group of 25 volunteers. That was not much, but these people were and still are, unique, devoted to the service, fully committed and having so much passion deep in their heart. We didn’t created a rescue team: we built a family. The volunteers came on duty with their wives and kids, offering their own pocket money to fill the tank of the ambulance when needed, giving so much of their time and energy to maintain our unique vehicle on the road. Recruiting more volunteers helped us to grow, little by little. We started to get equipment, training, and sponsorship for the petrol. Sebastien, a French firefighter and paramedic, had learned enough vocabulary to start teaching the team some basic first aid.

If we didn’t have much hope or expectation at the very beginning, the bubble of generosity that was created in Vientiane around this ambulance started to make us believe that everything was possible.

Then, in January 2012, our unique ambulance is taken over by an NGO, from one day to another, leaving our team in dismay. From one day to another, people died on the roadside just like it used to be, with nobody to help.

But with such an amazing project, a free ambulance service in a world were nothing is free, we thought that our project would touch people and bring us enough help to buy another ambulance. We were right: nothing is free in this world. We realised at that time that if you want to get access to international fundings and grants, what you need is not a meaningful project or results. You need a name. But we didn’t have a name: we were nobody.

After a whole year, in January 2013, we finally managed to collect 6,000 USD thanks to EXO Foundation. With this money, we bought a wreck that we transformed into a beautiful ambulance in just 3 months.

Vientiane Rescue was reborn from the ashes.

(The story continues on the next page: “Vientiane Rescue today“)