Calling EMS and EMT professionals, firefighters, and other first responders to a weekend of instruction, learning, and camaraderie on the beach in Mexico!
One World Medics, which has donated nearly 30 ambulances and emergency vehicles across Mexico since 2019, will hold its first International Conference in Puerto Peñasco this September 28th-30th. With a goal of just 100 participants for this inaugural gathering, the Conference aims to provide an opportunity for EMT professionals to take part in training, learning, and sharing unique perspectives while “forming new friendships, professional contacts, and improved patient care on both sides of the border,” according to its site. In fact, explains OWM co-founder Bryan Peterson, 80% of instructors already lined up for the event are from Mexico, with additional instructors from the U.S., and expected EMS registrants from San Luis Rio Colorado, Tijuana, Hermosillo, Mexicali, Caborca, and of course Puerto Peñasco.
“This is an opportunity for many institutions that can’t pay to attend similar conferences in the US,” detailed Peterson during a recent visit to Puerto Peñasco. Gratefully, we had a brief chance to meet up between Peterson’s rounds to visit the 2 ambulances donated by OWM here locally (one to the Red Cross, the other to the Fire Department) and his visit with student paramedics at the UTPP (Puerto Peñasco Technological University). Local Red Cross Coordinator Ruben Barajas, currently a member of the One World Medics board – and quite possibly how the idea of the September conference got started – facilitated our chat and then let Bryan share the story.
From Tijuana ride-alongs to 501©3
As a teenager in San Diego, Peterson frequently spent weekends over the summer riding along with the Tijuana rescue group Halcones (Falcons). One look at the Halcones tattoo on Peterson’s forearm and you can literally see how much the experience and friendships made there have impacted him. In 2019, now as a full-time firefighter in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Peterson went back for another weekend ride-along in Tijuana together with fellow firefighter (and OWM co-founder) Jerry Shultz. During that trip, Peterson explains, after the two rode along in Halcones’ only functioning ambulance at the time – which had a transmission failure halfway through its run – the two saw a pressing need for reliable ambulances and more medical supplies, becoming determined to figure out how they could make that happen.
Back in Indiana, Peterson and Shultz brainstormed as to how to get an ambulance to the Halcones group in Mexico. They knew of a local hospital that was about to retire an ambulance which, though still in good working condition, had to be taken out of the vehicle pool after a certain amount of time. They just needed $3500 and now had to think about fundraising. That’s where Fernando Zapari of the regional “El Mexicano” newspaper comes in.
With a growing Hispanic population in Ft. Wayne (9.5% according to the US Census Bureau), and those of Mexican descent at the top of that figure, Zapari’s interest for the ambulance donation to become a reality transformed into the community of Ft. Wayne itself helping to raise the funds needed.
“Zapari was instrumental in starting (One World Medics),” explains Peterson, “and is now our board president.” After raising enough funds from the local community, “and particularly from the Hispanic community” Peterson stresses, they were able to purchase and refurbish that first ambulance and we got it back down to Halcones in Tijuana.
One could say that got the wheels rolling, as to date the group has been able to donate 28 ambulances across the border (27 to Mexico and 1 to Honduras). That includes the two to Puerto Peñasco. “The most challenging part, and where those benefitting from the ambulances have to step in,” notes Peterson, “is the import process and customs into Mexico.”
The ambulances themselves for the most part are now acquired through donation as various hospitals or service organizations have become interested in the project (including Peterson’s own Rotary Club that just celebrated their first year). Same goes for medical supplies, as OWM packs each ambulance with equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, or other needs), along with consumables, before each journey. “We store items at an airport hanger,” remarks Peterson, “though really when we receive donations the goal is for them to come in and go out. We have a wait list of over 40 sites requiring ambulances.”
In addition to donating the refurbished emergency vehicles, and medical supplies able to fit within, before each OWM ambulance goes out it is further outfitted with two stickers: one for Engine 6 “the Zoo” of Peterson and Shultz’s fire department, and the other to memorialize fallen fellow firefighter Eric Balliet. “Eric’s family usually puts each sticker on,” indicates Peterson.
While developing a 501©3 non-profit to donate ambulances, as well as medical equipment and supplies to spots across Mexico (as well as Honduras and expanding to Guatemala) may not have been Peterson and Shultz’s plan when the transmission failed on the Halcones ambulance in Tijuana, that’s the way their world has gone. One world. “One,” concludes Peterson, “because that is to represent that borders were insignificant. There are needs and there are resources, and all we do is put them together.”
The first One World Medics international conference is Sept. 28th – 30th in Puerto Peñasco. Register online at: One World Medics International Training Conference Registration, Thu, Sep 28, 2023 at 8:00 AM | Eventbrite
Locally, contact Ruben Barajas at: 638 106 0816 email: Rubenbarajas24_@hotmail.com
Registration is $75 US for the conference, with an extra $25 US for social events. Not an EMT or not able to make it? No worries, you can help support by sponsoring a local paramedic student – contact Bryan for more information: email@example.com
One World Medics is a 501©3 non-profit. Monetary donations can be deposited at any Fire Police City County Federal Credit Union location in the Fort Wayne area under “One World Medics” or can be sent via PayPal to @oneworldmedics.
Donations can also be mailed to 2301 Fairfield Avenue, Suite 102 Fort Wayne, IN 46807. In-kind donations can be arranged by contacting One World Medics at firstname.lastname@example.org.