Remote Area Medical ® (RAM)

Stan Brock, RAM founder, is remembered by many as the co-star of the television series Wild Kingdom.

Dr. Joseph Smiddy

"A half century or more ago, I was living in a part of the upper Amazon basin where health care was a 26-day march away on foot. I survived malaria, dengue fever, numerous wild animal attacks and various encounters with Longhorns and mustangs without the help of a doctor. Others were not so lucky and I buried a number of them. It occurred to me that designing an all-volunteer health and veterinary care program for such desolate places might make life easier for a whole lot of people. It took a few years to work out the concept, but in 1985, Remote Area Medical (RAM) was born," states Stan Brock, who now devotes himself full time to the organization and those it serves.

RAM HeadquartersRAM is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. The city has leased a former school building to them at a very affordable rate, which serves as their international headquarters. The large amount of floor space, allows them to keep and organize donated supplies efficiently.

One of the first projects tackled when RAM began was to develop an effective method of delivering medical care to the remote area of the Amazon Rainforest where Stan Brock had lived for so many years. A permanent hospital was established at the edge of the rainforest, along with a bush plane rescue service enabling help to reach the most remote Indian villages. The free air ambulance service is based in Lethem, near Guyana's border with Brazil. RAM also undertakes several medical missions to Guyana each year.

In 1992, RAM was invited to put on a dental clinic in Hancock County, Tenn., one of the poorest counties in the country. "A week or two later, another request came in from another county and pretty soon we were adding on eyeglasses and general medical consultations. It just blossomed at that point," Brock said of the expansion of services into the U.S.

In addition to their main services consisting of dental, vision and routine medical screenings, RAM also has a Veterinary team which includes an ambitious program to spay and neuter 100,000 animals a year on a clinic by clinic basis. Many people in the world rely on their livestock for survival. To provide assistance to people in need, RAM Vet has created a Community Based Animal Healthcare Worker Program, which not only trains local people to identify and treat diseases, but also helps them use preventative healthcare to improve the overall health of their animals.

Today, RAM goes where it is invited and where it is able to field a sufficient number of volunteers. In the U.S., many of its clinics are held in Tennessee, the only state that allows clinicians with out-of-state medical licenses to treat patients as long as they do so for free. RAM was instrumental in getting the law changed in Tennessee in 1995, which has made it easier to staff its clinics. Stan Brock is an advocate for changing similar laws in all states.

Stan Brock is also a qualified airline transport pilot, and often pilots a vintage 1943 Douglas C-47 plane. It is used for the transport of medical equipment and volunteers from the Knoxville base to various RAM clinic sites in the US. During Hurricane Katrina it evacuated refugees out of Baton Rouge. There are several aircraft in the donated fleet; including the Douglas C-47/DC-3, a Twin Beech classic from the 1950s, a King Air turboprop, a Cessna 150 basic trainer, and the Cessna 206 bush plane that is based in Guyana flying the free air ambulance.

The city of Knoxville has made a hangar available at the airport, located close to RAM Headquarters. It shelters the DC-3 and other aircraft.

Cessna 206 Cargo Offload C-47 /  DC-3
 
Cessna 206 Bush Plane

 

Cargo being Off-Loaded

 

the C-47 / DC-3

 


In 2008, RAM was featured on the News Program, 60 MINUTES. Until then, their annual budget had been about $250,000, of which 94% to 96% of unrestricted funds had been directed to program services, with 4% to 6% going towards administration and overhead. The response to the program was phenomenal, raising the annual budget substantially. RAM operates solely from donations and grants from private donors and family foundations - no government, taxpayer, or corporate funding are received.

At the time of the 60 MINUTES program, 524 medical missions had taken place. To help understand the scope of services that were being provided by RAM at the time, one free clinic in Knoxville treated 920 people, made 500 pairs of glasses, provided 95 mammograms, filled 567 teeth and extracted another 1066 - but unfortunately, still had to turn 400 people away.

One newspaper writer said this about the RAM segment, "This March 2nd, 60 MINUTES Report, will probably go down in media history as one of the most important and moving stories ever produced in television journalism." It certainly was the most important report about the inequalities of health care in the United States to appear in recent years.

Watch 60 MINUTES Video on CBS News


RAM has continued to expand their Free Medical Clinics within the U.S. One of their largest was recently held in the LA Forum in Inglewood, CA (Los Angeles area) on August 11-18, 2009. It was an overwhelming success and a repeat visit is scheduled for April 27 - May 3, 2010.

The following are some of the statistics from all RAM clinics (excluding 2010 veterinary clinics) as well as numbers for the 2010 clinics:

2010 clinic statistics: 3,124 patients served; 4,873 patient encounters; over 1,300 volunteers; for a value-of-care of over $880,000.

To date, at least 48,000 RAM volunteers have delivered 44 million dollars’ worth of free care in more than 415,000 patient encounters and treatment to over 65,000 animals.


Great interview of Stan Brock on the Tavis Smiley Show - August 21, 2009

60 Minutes Program Featuring Stan Brock & RAM- March 2, 2008

Visit the Remote Area Medical ® (RAM) website

Find out more about Stan Brock

 


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR A RAM EXPEDITION in Los Angeles, California on April 27 - May 3, 2010

The following CALIFORNIA licensed/certified specialists are needed: OPHTHALMOLOGISTS, OPTOMETRISTS, OPTICIANS, DENTISTS, REGISTERED DENTAL HYGIENISTS, CERTIFIED DENTAL HYGIENISTS, AND TRIAGE RNS/LPNS - Please find registration forms and more info at:   www.ramfreeclinic.org


RAM CHICAGO Remote Area Medicals Reach Across AMerica Program is heading north!

Chicago, IL, is hosting a 3-day RAM clinic, August 26-28, 2010, in response to that citys massive population of medically underserved people. We are making a statewide plea for Illinois-licensed dentists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, general medical physicians, nurses, dental hygienists and other medical specialists. If you can help serve your impoverished neighbors, please visit this website for more information and volunteer today!     www.ramchicago.org


TEEN WORLD-CHANGERS SPONSORS RAMS GRUNDY, VIRGINIA, CLINIC

Two years ago, eight girls in New York formed their own charity which they named One Is Greater Than None and have selected Remote Area Medicals Rural AMerica program to be the U. S. component of their philanthropic efforts. Check out their website,   ONE IS GREATER THAN NONE,  to learn about these 16-year-olds who are saving children halfway around the world and encouraging other young people to get involved locally and globally. Lead on, 1>0 !