Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hospitals in the Middle

One of the minor subplots to Mexico's ongoing security problems is that hospitals are placed in a tough spot, often bribed/forced to deny service to one gang, turned into killing grounds while criminals are recovering from their wounds, or even, according to this AP article, targeted themselves. (Malcolm Beith takes issue with that article here.) Milenio recently ran an interview with the chief of the Red Cross in Mexico in which he reaffirmed the organization's commitment to treating everyone while trying to remain above the fray, a difficult line to walk:
In some zones of the country journalists no longer want to do reports on certain topics because of insecurity, because of threats. Have their been certain areas in which, because of the insecurity situation, the violence, the fear, the EMT's of the Red Cross say: "We're not going in until for example, the army or the detective arrives?
The Red cross is identified with its symbol, which is a symbol of neutrality, and obviously attends to the wounded immediately after a gunfight. It's not a symbol that says: "I'm going to stick myself in the crossfire". The Red Cross waits for the conflict to end so that it can attend the wounded.

We have found that in certain areas there have been cases in which some EMTs, because of fear or normal caution, haven't wanted to enter to collect the wounded. Are these isolated cases?
They are isolated cases in which they made certain first (that the confrontation had ended) before entering or leaving. The reality is that there has been great respect toward the Red Cross. There haven't been voluntary aggressions, not a single one.

Because of this war that has it been necessary to help the EMTs manage their fear and addition stress beyond their normal work?
We have psychologists that attend to the EMTs. Not only fear of the violence, but also of the grind of seeing two, three people in accidents, injured on a daily basis...many people die in their arms. It's a very traumatic situation.

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