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Sun, Feb 25th (Birthday) Jim at Pier 83
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Tue, Feb 27th (Birthday) Teresa on Sonatina
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Sunday, 25 February 2018
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Rio Dulce Bomberos
Story by Rebecca Nicholls
Photos by encor

A lot of people, surprisingly enough, don't know that Rio Dulce has an Ambulance and Fire Service.  Unlike other places, here they are all rolled into one, they are the Bomberos.
Two weeks ago, we had a small emergency here in Catamaran.  I was asked to call for help so immediately called the Bomberos - unfortunately I was met with “But we don't have a boat to get to you”.  We called a local boat driver to help us, and the crisis was averted but it made me think “Is it going to take someone dying before we get this sorted?”
Several days later, when our patient returned safe and sound to his boat, having experienced specialist treatment, he wanted to thank the Bombero that had come out here, tended to him and had the ambulance waiting in Bruno's.   My mind started ticking ...
Volunteers Mariela and Leonel visit marinas

At the recovered patient’s request, I went with him to the station, just under the bridge by the municipal dock.  

 We were greeted by Mariela, a Bombero with 6 years experience, who also serves as the secretary for this station.  A tough little nugget is the way I would describe her. I imagine she has seen more than enough blood and gore but the smile that is consistently on her face and the way in which this young lady carries herself is unreal.  

 After explaining about the donation and what we wished for it to go towards, I asked her why the Bomberos didn't have a boat on the water in case of an emergency. 

 “We do, we just don't have a secure place to keep it'.  So here we were, looking at a pretty nice 16ft boat and a near new Suzuki 40HP outboard just sitting there, out of the water at the station. 

Bomberos lancha now at Bruno's Marina

 After that, I headed to Bruno's and spoke with Marisol about keeping it at Bruno's dock, close to the Navy Patrol boat.  The answer – “Of course you can keep it here”.  Thanks Marisol!  Now Liberty is on the ramp, ready for quick deployment.
Next day was splash down day - where we were introduced to Leonel who works with Mariela.  He's been a Bombero for around 9 years and is the 'Jefe' in

He exudes knowledge, passion, professionalism and willingness on a whole other level. 

Leonel explained to us that as well as having the boat for medical emergencies, they also have a pump system that will be installed on the boat.  That will give them the ability to direct  and pump water directly from the river in the event of a fire and a reverse system to rapidly pump water out of a sinking vessel. 

Emergency pump and fire nozzle

We launch, the motor starts, YIPPEE.

Now we get to the point where I realize that these guys aren't going to just need help getting a boat in the water, they need a whole lot of help! There are consistently two ambulances (on the land) running, but if you pass the station you will see the array of various pick-ups, fire trucks,  etc. that are currently not functioning due to lack of cash flow. 

By land the area that the Bomberos de Rio Dulce covers runs from KM 260 near Buenos Aires to KM 320 Trasversal del Norte. 


By water they cover from the entrance of El Golfete to the Entrance of Lago Izabal.  The staggering fact:  they're expected to cover 144 communities. 

Another staggering fact:  only one of them is a full-time paid employee. 

 Mariela and Leonel (neither of them are the full-time paid bomberos) are paid a base wage IF the money is available from the Municipality.  Tough break, when you consider how many lives they've probably saved!  That, though, is a whole other story, a story I am hoping to maybe take up with the Mayor. 

 In the upcoming days,  I will be posting in the Rio Dulce Forum the details of just how many emergencies these paramedics attended in January.
Now it's down to us, the locals and the ex-pats who live in this beautiful paradise to ensure the continuity and quality of care and service that these guys are totally capable of undertaking.

 Ask yourself the question now 'who would I call, where would I go if there was a real emergency?'  I am hoping to source funds, information and assistance continuously and consistently with your support!

Donation box
This past Wednesday,  the Bomberos visited marinas, restaurants, tiendas, and even individual boaters and were given a pretty good response!   We raised around Q1100.  So a huge thanks, to everyone who firstly showed their enthusiasm for this project and secondly to those who coughed up the cash. There is definitely some good Karma heading you way!
Next on the agenda is thinking up some cool activities to raise funds, awareness and support.  If you think can help with any thing I've mentioned (support, skills, cash, ideas, etc. etc.) please contact me on 4414-6174, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it (that's travelling with 2 ll's) or find the Bomberos de Rio Dulce on Facebook!  

The Bomberos phone number is 5214-3158, and they monitor vhf 68, call sign Bravo Victor.
We will be doing another marina/restaurant/boaters run on Feb. 27. After that we'll be by the 27th of each month.  Also, for anyone donating, the Bomberos de Rio Dulce operating on an open book basis, so you encouraged to look at any of their financial records if you wish!


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