In May of 2014, an article in the Greek Reporter highlighted the fact that there were only seventy ambulances available at the National Emergency Centre in Greece (EKAV) to serve over five million Athenians. The article also observed that many of these ambulances in service were of poor mechanical condition, many having hundreds of thousand kilometres on the clock and that there were currently no plans or funds in place to replace these vehicles should they fall out of service. What this meant for the public was that in cases of non-emergency ambulance call-out, patients were often facing a very long wait which was only going to get longer as vehicles fell out of service. In response to this the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation began to work together on plans to alleviate the problem somewhat. To date, the partnership have been able to provide five fully equipped ambulances and three direct response vehicles to EKAV, giving much-needed immediate relief while awaiting news on the fleet renewal process.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation
Established in 2005 in Greece, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has the aim of continuing the philanthropic works of the late John S. Latsis, a wealthy entrepreneur and shipping tycoon who passed away in April 2003. Throughout his career, John S. Latsis was noted for his extensive public benefit and social welfare work, which ranged from establishing scholarships to providing emergency relief in the wake of national crisis, donating equipment and buildings to the Greek state to funding scientific research projects within Greece and across the globe. John S. Latsis was recognised for his philanthropic works with many honours over the years, including the Order of the Grand Commander, the Millennial Gold Cross of Mount Athos and the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix. John S. Latsis’ public benefit work throughout his life was often in the shape of specific donations. In the eighties he contributed vital functional operational equipment to the Ministry of Public Order, the Hellenic Police and the Greek Fire Department. In 1999, he signed a contract granting the Latsio Burns Centre to the Greek state, a contract that was fulfilled two years after his death through the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. The Foundation is today run under a supervisory board consisting of John’s widow Henrietta Latsis and his three children Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis. Many of the business ventures and board memberships of Spiro Latsis are those previously run or occupied by his father. Donations of emergency equipment to the Greek state such as ambulances characterised John S. Latsis and this work is continued by his remaining family.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is a leading grant-making organisation with similar principles to the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation takes responsibility for making grants across the globe in the areas of education, social welfare, sports, health, arts and culture, concentrating mainly on those projects that will have the most lasting impact on the greatest number of people. Since 1996, the Foundation has made grants totalling €1.2 billion comprised of 2,823 grants to non-profit organisations in 111 global nations. In 2012 and 2013 the Foundation was able to announce two new initiatives of €100 million each, addressing different aspects of the crisis in Greece. The 2012 initiative focused on immediate relief for vulnerable members of society against the adverse effects of the crisis while the 2013 initiative focused primarily on creating better employment prospects and job opportunities for young people in Greece.
Donation to EKAV
Working together in partnership the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation have been able to provide eight vehicles to the National Emergency Centre in Greece. Representatives of both Foundations stressed the importance not only of the donations themselves but also the spirit of co-operation in which they were procured, stating that Greece needs to learn as a nation to work together during the current crisis. George Agourides, speaking as a board member of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, further commented on how this donation of vital emergency vehicles could be seen to represent the beginning of an operational welfare society within Greece. Chairman of the Board at EKAV thanked both Foundations profusely and talked in his address about how the new vehicles would revitalise and reinforce EKAV, upgrading the level of pre-hospital care to patients in both rural and urban areas at a critical time. The vehicles were presented to the Greek state in a short ceremony which took place on September 10th last year.