Cruz Roja: You Don’t Know When You Will Need It
By Jesús Aguado
Every year, the local Red Cross (Cruz Roja) responds to more than 4,000 emergency calls. “We do not want it, but we do not know when we will have an emergency,” says Leticia Fernández, president of Cruz Roja. Sanmiguelenses acknowledged the importance of this institution by investing in their own security, exceeding the 2015 fundraising goal by 50 percent.
All the collected money in the 2015 collection (420,927.86 pesos) has gone to the assistance area and to buy medical supplies. However, Cruz Roja manages to provide emergency services in spite of the fact that their facilities are very austere, including the dormitories. This lack of comfortable facilities has not prevented Cruz Roja from making sanmiguelenses their first priority, and for that reason they are going to construct new facilities on the road to Querétaro. They will need your support more than ever.
In the beginning there was nothing
Luis Arellano, former councilor of the Red Cross, told Atencion that in early 1970 there was a gas station adjacent to the current Instituto Allende, and a bus caught fire there. The municipality at that time had only two ambulances for emergency services (if they were available)—one was from the IMSS (Hospital of Social Security) and the second one was from the general hospital. Neither of those had trained emergency medical technicians on board; they had just a driver, a stretcher-bearer, and an assistant.
At that fire, there were burn victims who died not only because there was no fire department but also due to the lack of ambulances and trained personnel to treat those cases. “I remember that the ambulances were driven full of injured people, but it is very curious that those were people able to walk, while those more critical died on fire at the accident.”
That could have been the main motivator when in 1980, a group of citizens gathered with the goal of having a delegation of the Red Cross present in the city to respond to emergency calls. The first members were trained in Celaya and the organization was inaugurated on May 5, 1980. The first ambulance was donated by the Rotary Club. “The first aid kit was a small plastic box in which they used to carry five muslin wraps, thiomersal, some triangular bandages, and scissors; they were trained on how to use the bandages. They could do a lot with that material,” said Arellano. According to President Fernández, now their equipment is more modern and they can provide proper attention to keep a patient alive until they are transferred to a hospital.
There have been several emergency institutions in the city, such as the ERUM (Group of Rescue and Medical Emergencies), however, the only one that has overcome crises and internal problems is the Cruz Roja. It has been ranked by the National Red Cross as one of the best in the country for the provision of first-responder medical services. To date, Cruz Roja has attended more than 80,000 emergencies; the number has grown from 200 calls the first year to 4,000 annually.
A day at Cruz Roja
On Tuesday, July 28, during a visit to Cruz Roja, Atención confirmed that the dormitory mattresses are not in the best condition, although Fernández assured us that the responders of Cruz Roja are happy to sleep here, because their priority is to provide help in emergencies. The phone at the CECOM (Communications Center) rang; the caller was reporting that a boy had fallen down and fainted at the Ignacio Allende Park at colonia Olimpo.
They invited me to get in the ambulance, they turned on the siren, and we headed to the park. Alberto Carrera was the driver; Roberto Sánchez the paramedic; and Silvia Rodríguez the auxiliary. They checked the patient who said he was running and stumbled with a chain and fell over another chain; one of the links got encrusted in his shin. Sánchez quickly treated the injury and told the patient he was going to be taken to the general hospital because he needed some stitches.
On the way to the hospital, the paramedic and the auxiliary requested more information from the patient, such as allergies, the last intake of liquids or food, if he was medicated, as well as events prior to the accident. “I am nervous, I have never been in an ambulance before, or at the hospital,” said the boy, who was accompanied by his sister. Once at the hospital, the boy was handed over for treatment at the hospital, one of the patients—a relative of a volunteer of Cruz Roja—had been told that he would not get well, so he decided to spend his last days at home with his loved ones; Cruz Roja as a social service transported him to his place, always with kind manners and quality service.
Those who want to spend a day at Cruz Roja are welcome; call 152 1616.