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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Day With The Mexican Red Cross -A Parade And An Emergency

This post is a guest blog from volunteer Claudia Gianneti, who is traveling in Central and South America.

I spent a day with fellow Red Cross volunteers in Mexico while on my travels in San Miguel de Allende, a picturesque city of amazing beauty northeast of Mexico City. Gustavo Adolfo Rodriguez Rangel, the administrator of Mexico City’s chapter invited me to join Red Cross members for the city's celebration commemorating the Mexican revolution. The Mexican Red Cross was on site to provide emergency response services during the event, as well as participating in the traditional parade. This was a wonderful opportunity to share time with volunteers and learn about the services provided to the local community.
Claudia and a fellow volunteer for the Mexican Red Cross

Many of the services provided by the Mexican Red Cross are the same as those offered by the American Red Cross, as I’ve experienced as a volunteer at the Mile High chapter. In Mexico, however, the Red Cross provides ambulance and medical emergency response services, and depending on the city or area of the chapter location, the Red Cross may be the first responders to any medical emergency. This was the case for the Red Cross chapter of San Miguel.

I was assigned to accompany two first responder volunteers in one of the ambulances stationed around the park where the parade was taking place. We parked the ambulance and opened the back doors to enjoy the view of the events and to be ready for any medical emergency. The parade was beautiful and celebratory, with a great display of different generational groups, decorations and music.

An ambulance operated by the Mexican Red Cross
Suddenly, my colleagues got a radio call from headquarters telling them to report to a hotel near our route. We took off hastily, getting more information about the medical condition of an injured casualty on the way. The injured party had serious wounds to the forearm that required immediate emergency care by the RC responders. The volunteers worked to manage the patient’s bleeding and mangled flesh, until intervention by a physician was possible (incidentally, this situation had no relation to the parade events). As the ambulance made its way, the Emergency Medical Response team took care of the patient until we reached the hospital. Once the patient was turned over to hospital personnel, we went back to our location near the parade grounds, where events were still unfolding. After about 45 minutes, the Mexican Red Cross got a chance to join the parade and showcase the pride of volunteers with ambulances, siren sounds and red and white colors. Wow!

It was quite a unique day and a whole different experience from my work as a disaster services volunteer with the American Red Cross. But mostly, visiting the Mexican Red Cross allowed me to experience the camaraderie of fellowship across cultural lines. I think this is what the Red Cross principle of 'universality' is about - knowing that when and wherever you see the Red Cross emblem, you know you will find fellowship of cause and action for common well-being.

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