Piła bus transforms into ‘armoured operating room’ to help wounded in Ukraine
A bus from Piła has been spectacularly transformed into an armoured hospital wagon and sent to help the wounded in Ukraine.
Gifted to the humanitarian organisation Humanosh by Piła City Hall and transport authority MZK, the Solaria Urbino 10 bus took months to adapt - a process that was entirely overseen by the Autorota foundation.
The bus is protected by 8mm shrapnel resistant armour, fine mesh coverings over the windscreen and metal plates welded over side windows and other vulnerable parts.
First having its interior disassembled, it was then fitted and renovated in Romania with the total cost amounting to around PLN 1 million.
Serving as a mobile operating room, features include four operating tables, an air decontamination system, defibrillators, wash tub and sterilisation equipment.
Although it is unknown where exactly the bus will now serve, a representative of Humanosh has been quoted as saying it will be stationed around five to fifteen kilometres from the frontline.
Speaking to Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Skopiec of Humanosh said: “It will be placed in a kind of a trench that will be accessible from three sides – on one side, cars and trucks carrying wounded will be able to bring soldiers.
“On the other, ambulances can arrive to then take the patients once their condition has been stabilised.
“Lastly, on the third side, there will be an evacuation route, that is, a route for the bus itself to exit when the need arises.”
Additionally, a second bus that was donated at the same time in 2022 is also to undergo a refit before it is also sent eastwards in anticipation of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Tadeusz Majewski of Piła’s MZK said: “The buses were used right to the very end by us and are entirely operational and have a lowering ramp – this is important, because we envisage them being used by Ukrainian medical services.
“Moreover, the vehicles both have pneumatic suspension, which should make it easier for them to drive over uneven terrain.”
Eventually, the bus will be joined not just by the other Solaris donated by Piła (for which funds for conversion are currently being raised), but also by an armoured American caravan and truck that will coordinate the influx and outflux of wounded.
Although unorthodox, Skopiec said that the prevailing military situation dictated that such unusual steps were taken.
He said: “There are few stabilisation points right now and the situation is so dynamic that making such points stationary is high risk.
“You need to be able to evacuate quickly if possible and also prevent the loss of medical equipment.”
For Humanosh, the long-awaited premier of this remarkable vehicle is another tangible success in their ongoing bid to provide aid for Ukraine.
Based in Zdynia in Malopolska, the NGO was first founded in 2020 “to commemorate and disseminate the history of the Righteous Among the Nations of the world, to fight racism and intolerance, and to help anyone who experiences those.”
Established by Katarzyna Skopiec (whose own grandparents were recognised as Righteous Among the Nations) and her husband, Piotr, the couple have been involved in helping refugees for over 15 years.
Doubling down on their efforts since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the couple have so far helped secure the evacuation of 2,500 Ukrainians, among them 1,500 children with cancer.