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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cruz Roja (Red Cross) to the Rescue

by Lisa Shannon,

SAN FELIPE CRUZ ROJA - Cruz Roja Mexicana, San Felipe is the only organization to provide Emergency Medical Services, answering 70 calls per month, on average. Ambulance response is the main assistance provided, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

On February 25th, 2008, in a formal ceremony with Mexico’s president, Mr. Felipe Calderón, San Felipe received eight ambulances for Baja California. A local dedication ceremony was held on March 14. The new equipment, worth US $2,800, was donated by the San Felipe Rotary Club. The equipment includes a new monitor-defibrillator, an oximeter, a complete laryngoscope set and other essential rescue items, including equipment for an Advanced Life Support Unit with general supplies as part of the ambulance’s supplies.

Currently, Cruz Roja is working on various projects under the leadership of Nefi Ramírez García, who started with Cruz Roja in September 1985. “I started at the Mexico City earthquake as a first time volunteer with Rescate de Michoacán,” he remembers, “but in 1990, I moved to serve as a Red Cross volunteer at Morelia Michoacán. This year I will celebrate 18 years serving in Cruz Roja Mexicana.” In April 2007, Mr. Garcia was invited to serve as the General Administrator or General Director of the local chapter (delegación).

Financial support comes from the “Monthly Donor Program,” a personal commitment to donate 100 pesos monthly. The program’s goal is 500 donors, or 50,000 pesos per month. This funds the ambulance crews, local radio dispatchers and full-time, professionally certified EMS personnel. An Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification project is underway to train five local EMTs for ACLS certification.

Mr. Garcia says that the community can help Cruz Roja in one major way: prevention. “We like to serve, but we do not desire accidents. If people respect transit laws, use safety belts, wear a helmet on motorcycles and minimize risks at home, we will receive few emergency calls.”
Cruz Roja provides community training for CPR, Disaster Preparedness and First Aid. The organization’s funding depends upon individual and personal donations, which are necessary to support Cruz Roja because it is a socially-based organization and receives no governmental funding. Its operational costs are 110,000-120,000 pesos per month.

Contacting Cruz Roja is simple: for emergency calls, dial 066 from any cellphone or landline. Bilingual staff in Mexicali will take the address and report. The local telephone number (for emergencies and non-emergencies) is 686-577-1544. For non-emergencies, administration/public office hours are 9M to 9PM Monday-Saturday. Feel free to visit the administrative office and ask to see the accountability books, records, statistics and bank accounts; these belong to the community and are open to anyone wishing to see them to learn what Cruz Roja does with every peso it receives.

Cruz Roja thanks San Felipe for supporting this essential part of the community, and Rotary Club for donating the emergency equipment. This community deserves the most professional emergency response possible. Cruz Roja is looking to be such a provider, but it will take time, money and lots of help.

Donations can be made in person at the Cruz Roja medical office or by deposit into the CRUZ ROJA account. All checks should be made payable to CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA DELEGACIÓN SAN FELIPE, I.A.P. or CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA, BBVA BANCOMER, Cuenta No. 0156279244 CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA DELEGACIÓN SAN FELIPE I.A.P. Supplies, medical and EMS equipment can be donated at the medical or administrative office. More ambulance equipment is still needed: C-collars, backboards, first aid supplies, glucometers, newer defibrillators and vital sign monitors.
Emergency: 066 / San Felipe: 686-577-1544