Project Recipient: Cruz Roja Mexicana
Project Amount: 9,200 CAD

Healthcare is a universal need—especially in times of emergency. This is certainly true in the city of Acapulco (Guerrero, Mexico) and surrounding rural areas, where a population of over 1,000,000 people reside in varying socioeconomic circumstances. Acapulco, known for its beaches, is a national and international tourist destination, which causes a constant influx and outflux of people to and from the city every weekend. This leads to a high number of emergency cases among visitors, in addition to the needs of the local populace.

It is in this context in which the Mexican Red Cross, best known by its name in Spanish, Cruz Roja Mexicana, works towards achieving their mission, which they state simply as saving lives. “The Red Cross is the main line of emergency services,” explains Sergio A. Alonso Villaseñor, State Director of the Guerrero Delegation of the Cruz Roja Mexicana. Cruz Roja services are offered free of charge, to anyone in need. He explains that in Acapulco, given the local context, both residents and visitors are often involved in auto and drowning accidents requiring emergency services, along with patients suffering from other illnesses that require intervention. “In the past few years, due to the lack of safety experienced here, the need for emergency services has increased. We attend to 9 out of every 10 emergency service request registered in Acapulco. Just in 2017, we attended to more than 7,650 cases with ambulance services, totally free of charge. We deliver ambulance services approximately once every 42 minutes, 365 days out of the year.”

Carmen Sevilla Hernandez,
licensed Red Cross nurse

This work would not be possible without the dedicated staff who carry it out, and recently Cruz Roja Mexicana found itself in need of emergency response personnel. It can be a challenge to find someone capable of meeting the physical and emotional demands of this stressful line of work, which requires great skill and aplomb. Many ambulance technicians and medics undertake this difficult line of work because of a passion for service. Carmen Sevilla Hernandez, a licensed nurse with Cruz Roja, states simply: “I started working with Cruz Roja because of my desire to help others.”

Through funds made available by a recent CAF Canada project, Cruz Roja Mexicana was able to ensure that there were two full-time ambulance drivers and two full-time medics available to operate the organization’s ambulances. The funding supported these staff for five full months. “Thanks to the hiring of these four technicians,” explains Mr. Villaseñor, “we were able to attend to 132 more cases each month.”

Jesús Mayo, a paramedic with the Red Cross, shared that the most moving moment he has experienced in his work has been the opportunity to help a patient that fell from a height of over 20 feet after suffering cardiac arrest. “It was in a difficult-to-access place,” he explained, “so I asked my teammates on the urban rescue team to come and help me. When I got there I began the first aid process, which helped him to start breathing again. My coworkers arrived to complete the rescue and we were able to lift him up and get him onto the ambulance.” By the time the ambulance had arrived at the nearest hospital, the patient’s vital signs were stable once again.

Quetzalcoatl Garcia Villena, a certified EMT with the Acapulco delegation, describes a similarly moving experience. One Friday night, Mr. Garcia and his teammates arrived to the scene of an emergency call, bringing the patient aboard the ambulance seconds before he entered into cardiac arrest. The team aboard the ambulance began manual CPR, bringing his vital signs back to normal. By the time they reached the hospital, the patient was in stable enough condition that surgery could begin.

Mr. Garcia concluded his story about the work of Cruz Roja Acapulco with words of gratitude: “I want to thank the donors and the benefactors, because thanks to them, we are able to continue saving lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!”

As Cruz Roja Mexicana reminds us, “the best parts of a human being shine even in the darkest of times.” These committed service people will do all they can to keep Acapulco healthy and safe, thanks to the dedication of Cruz Roja Mexicana and the support of CAF Canada.