OAKHURST – Local people behind Rotary International really put the “International” in the name when they met last week to dedicate and donate an ambulance to a town in Mexico that really needs it.
Members of the Sierra Sunrise Rotary and Madera Sunrise Rotary gathered on July 1 for a send-off for SAS 46, formerly owned by Sierra Ambulance Service.
It’s now been retired, refurbished and given to emergency service workers for use in Nogales, Mexico, with help from Rotarians here and there along the way.
Kicking new tires provided by Sullivan Tire Pros, members of the club admired the refurbished vehicle in the parking lot with Sierra Ambulance board member Dennis Fairbanks and General Manager Edward Guzman.
The ambulance was being retired from the Sierra Ambulance fleet when Rotary Past-President Dale Miller, working through Rotary contacts, got the ball rolling to fix it up and donate to a needy area. As it turned out, the engine had over 200,000 miles and needed a full overhaul. Several thousand dollars later, the keys were handed over on what happened to be Susan Macaulay’s first day in office replacing Miller.
Gordon and Carol Kennedy of the Madera Sunrise Rotary Club were on hand to oversee the ambulance transfer, especially poignant since they’ve met with the Rotary in Mexico and traveled to Nogales, located on the northern border of the Mexican state of Sonora.
According to Sierra Ambulance manager Guzman, there is no expectation of healthcare in many parts of the world, including the area to which the ambulance has been transferred.
Guzman explains that our mountain area usually has six ambulances available, including three that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and three that can be called out for large scale emergencies. These ambulances serve approximately 30,000 people.
By contrast, the area in the mountain city of Nogales has a population of 35,000 and will share a single ambulance with neighboring communities for a total population coverage of nearly 50,000 people. The region includes a long strip of highway between two cities that by itself could warrant a fleet of services in a town with more resources.
Back in February 2012, the Rotary sent a fire truck to Nogales and it was extremely well received. The town has a 30 member fire department with trained emergency medical technicians and services.
Besides a potentially dangerous highway, the area has an oil refinery, a sugar refinery and carries the potential for flooding from the river that flows through town. Without the newly-gifted ambulance, Nogales would have none. Before this, they’ve gotten by with an ambulance 30 minutes away from the area or by calling for the local medical transportation the townspeople have made do with until now: a 79 Ford pickup truck.
Congratulations to all who worked so hard to make the ambulance transfer happen.