Since December 8th, the community of Samara has had an ambulance with state of the art equipment and a helicopter for emergency transfers, which together have already taken care of more than 20 patients.
Because 36 kilometers separate Samara residents from La Anexion Hospital in Nicoya, the company Air Evac International and Dr. Freddy Soto’s clinic acquired an ambulance with medical equipment like a defibrillator monitor and cardiopulmonary resuscitators for patients who suffer a heart attack, cardiorespiratory arrest or a near drowning. It also has oxygenators, blood pressure, vital sign monitors, and supplies of medications and intravenous fluid infusions.
Both the ambulance and the helicopter transfers are only for patients who are in urgent need.. In less serious cases, the paramedics assist the patient and wait for a Red Cross unit.
Ricardo Hernandez, in charge of operations for Air Evac, explained that although the company is private, service to the community is most important.
“We have heard of cases of medical emergencies in this area in which human lives have been lost because they do not arrive in time to provide basic patient care. For this reason, we made an agreement with Dr. Soto to provide this service to the community of Samara. While this is a private company, we never forget the human aspect. Our staff has clear instructions to help anyone in need, regardless of if they have money or not, when a life is at risk,” Hernandez said.
The company accepts health insurance to cover the costs of the service in cases of emergency. A transfer costs about $500 to Nicoya, $1000 to Liberia and $2,000 to San Jose.
Laura Ellington, from the Samara Security Committee, said there have been deaths in the area because an ambulance did not arrive in time.
“We already have cases where women have given birth in the ambulance, due to all the waiting time. They don’t have time to get to the hospital in Nicoya. I think this service is a great alternative and it is going to be an example for the government itself, because when they see that a private company is providing this service, they will assess the need that Samara has,” said Ellington.
Similarly, Xavi Palomar, a community leader in Samara, said that this service will provide peace of mind to visitors and locals in the town.
“These services are not provided by public health, and from the point of view of image assistance, if someone comes and sees that the ambulance is parked there, that gives a greater sense of security to the people,” Palomar said.
Of the 20 cases that have already been handled, 10 of them have required transfers. One of the most alarming incidents happened in mid-December, when a Brazilian tourist who was surfing at Camaronal Beach suffered a pierced lung because the spikes of a fish were pushed into his chest. He had to be moved to Hospital Mexico by helicopter, where he was hospitalized for five days.
Martin Bargo contributed to this article.