In my previous update, I recounted some of the service calls that the ambulance has gone out on since we got the new ambulance. Obviously the ambulance is a critical service in the community. But where do we stand now? And as one comment read (thanks, Red), what can you do to help?
First, the bad news. Francisco has decided, understandably, that driving the ambulance is too much for him. He is our delegado, he drives a water delivery truck, and he is still nursing an injury he received a few years back while on an ambulance call. He has agreed to stick with us until I can find someone else. Also, Cruz, who has helped so much through the years, has gradually been concentrating her efforts on other projects over the last couple of years, and this year, she has officially moved on.
I see all the good the ambulance is doing, and I’ve been formulating an action plan and doing everything I can to make the ambulance service more successful than ever.
1. Establish a Board of Directors: To promote community ownership of the ambulance project, I will be working on forming a board of roughly 5 people from both the Mexican community and other full-time residents. These people would be responsibly for making decisions about how the ambulance would operate, what would be done to raise funds, to establish rotating volunteers to keep the ambulance base clean and in good repair, etc.
2. Staff: I’ve talked with two men so far about taking over the driving responsibility. One, a former bombero, already has the necessary license and training, and the other has submitted his paperwork to La Huerta to get his license and get the training they offer. I’d like to get as many people as possible interested so that all the responsibility doesn’t fall on just a few people. To that end, I am hiring an announcement car/moto to drive through town and ask for interested people to attend a meeting where I can explain what we need. I hope to do the announcement some time next week and have the meeting a couple of days after that. I’m still trying to decide on a location for the meeting. I have also talked with the Dr. David at the Centro de Salud, and he has agreed to ride with the ambulance on any emergency calls when he is available. I’d like to set a precedent that that is part of the responsibility of the doctor on duty—to become part of the ambulance crew as needed. I will be setting an appointment with my friend the Chief of Staff of the President of La Huerta to see if we can make that happen formally.
3. Training: So far I have made arrangements with three people to come down on three separate occasions to do training with our new crew. One is a doctor in training in Emergency Services from New Mexico. The training she offers will be part of her elective credits/practicum for her EMS program. Another is a newly retired Director of Rural Health Programs from Canada. She wants to offer training not just to staff but also train in the administration of such a program. Another is an old friend from Canada who has trained our crew in the past. He also wants to bring down uniforms and other equipment needs for the ambulance. I’ve also been told that BAEC and Protección Civil organizations offer training, so I will be looking into that as well.
4. Money: Of course, we will always be in need of cash to replenish our stock of medical supplies, to pay for insurance, etc. I negotiated a contract with La Huerta last year to provide maintenance for the ambulance, so that is covered. It is very difficult to get crew members who I am expecting to invest a lot of time into training. Some of our former Protección Civil volunteers are no longer interested because if they leave work for an emergency call, they will lose their jobs, particularly construction workers. I am hoping that by offering a poco pago, a stipend, to the crew for the times they actually go out on calls, I will attract committed people. I am willing to finance that stipend to start, but I am trying to get other funding. Again, I will be meeting with La Huerta officials to ask for funds, and I am making a huge effort to involve the Mexican community financially. We are a different community than when Dan started this project years ago, and there are more people now with disposable income. My days of walking around this town with my hand out asking for donations are over. That does not mean I would not gratefully accept donations.
So here we are. I am eager to listen to ideas to help with this plan, and as I said, I’m more than willing to accept help in the form of actions or donations. Thanks for reading!