Guatemala 2010

For 2010, REDS teamed up once again with Paramedics for Children to present a variety of training topics to Rescate de Guatemala. Also once again, Vice President of Paramedics For Children Silvana Ayuso paved the way for the team of Instructors to come to Guatemala City.

For this trip, REDS Chief David Pease took the lead in getting another ambulance (thanks to Shelby Rescue!) to be used in Guatemala. Jason Jordan contacted Bill Wandrack of Engines of Hope who arranged for a fire engine to be donated as well.

Instructors for the trip are:

  • REDS: David Pease, Luke Steele, Lucas Tucker, Aaron Hair
  • REDS/Harlowe Fire Department: Chuck Webb
  • Rolesville Fire Department: Donnie Lawrence
  • Rolesville Fire Department: Jason Jordan
  • Creedmoor Fire Department: Mike Allen, Matt Foley
  • Rocky Mount Fire Department/Battleboro Fire Department: Cory Strange
  • Knightdale Public Safety/Western Wake Fire Department: Jason Boggs
Day 1 - Guatemala 2010

Day One started off with a long plane flight and a lower-key arrival than last year - due to scheduling issues, the team arrived on four different flights over a two-day period. The afternoon was spent showing the first-time instructors the layout of the Rescate base and planning for the training sessions.

Day 2 - Guatemala 2010

Day two started with discussions and planning about the training that starts tomorrow. Donnie and Mike met with the Bomberos (Firefighters) that they will be working with all week and came away excited about the level of knowledge that their students already possess. We then took a long drive into the Mountains to meet Silva and her family who treated us to lunch at their beautiful home in the mountains near Guatemala City. What a beautiful country!

Day 3 - Guatemala 2010

Day three was all about getting down to business. The Opening Ceremony started at nine, with the Guatemalen and American National Anthems performed by the Guatemalen Military band. Rescate de Guatemala, REDS, the Bomberos (Firefighters), Translators, and students from the Military Academy on base were standing while Coronel Edgar Alfredo Mazariegos greeted us warmly and spoke about the instructional plans in detail. Silvana discussed the efforts by Paramedics for Children, REDS, and the Guatemalen military all worked together to make the class a reality. The rest of the day was spent in a variety of exercises in Rope Rescue, Helicopter Operations, Extrication, Lifting, and Firefighting. As was the case last year, the students pushed the instructors to expand the planned topics by completing all of the tasks in record time. With even more time tomorrow, we need to step it up.

Day 4 - Guatemala 2010

Day Four was a solid day of training at all stations. The Bomberos did hose and ladder evolutions including lowering and raising firefighters. High lines did another day or rigging telphers across the rifle range. Extrication spent the day cutting up two cars and a bus, and Lifting stabilized a stacked vehicle and rolled cars using the Res-Q-Jacks and hand jacks. Lifting and Extrication joined forces for a final scenario. The Helicopter finally arrived on Tuesday, and the evolutions switched from simulation to victim lifting and hauling. The donated vehicles have still not arrived, but the Guatemala City Fire Department graciously provided a tanker and engine and various equipment Hopefully, the vehicles will be here on Wednesday, but training is proceeding as planned on all fronts.

Day 5 - Guatemala 2010

Day Five continued with more training on all fronts. The weather has not co-operated like last year - we have rain every afternoon and most of the night. However, nothing seems to be able to dampen the enthusiasm of the class participants. The Bomberos branched out today, taking on the Extrication and Lifting stations with gusto. They returned to fire-fighting just as it started pouring rain, but didn\'t want to stop - so they didn\'t. It\'s a shame Mike, Donnie, and Cory didn\'t bring extra boots... The trucks have still not arrived, but between the equipment we brought and the tools available locally, we are wearing out both the students and the Instructors Helo duties (you call that work? Riding around in a Huey all day?) also went well, with lifting and rappelling being the order of the day. We are still waiting on the trucks, but we\'re running wide open.

Day 6 - Guatemala 2010

Day Six training went as scheduled, ending at 3 PM so preparations could be made for a dinner that evening. The daily rain came at 2 PM, so most training was stopped a bit early. The Bomberos wanted more, so another hour was done under one of the buildings, with the focus on lowers and raises using rope. At 6 PM, the Instructor Team and the Bomberos joined the Rescate at the rifle range for an unbelievable dinner. (Genuine) refried beans, rice, pico de gallo... and one of the tastiest steaks most of us ever had, cooked over forced-air charcoal grill and guarded by Sgt. Garcia. Did I mention liter bottles of Gallo? At this point the training is complete. Events are planned for tomorrow, and Saturday is our day off. We will never forget the dedication and committment we saw all week from the Rescate de Guatemala and the Bomberos that we worked with Everyone keeps telling us how glad they are that we came to Guatemala to teach. The fact is that we feel honored to have the opportunity to work closely with such a dedicated and resourceful group.

Day 7 - Guatemala 2010

Day Seven started with an early-morning Helo Mission for three lucky souls, and a ceremony at the Guatemalan Presidential Palace at 0900. The team was presented with Ambassador of Peace pins and certificates for the hard work of the last week. Silva was given an award for her efforts on the behalf of Paramedics For Children. Back at the base, we had another ceremony where the Minister of Defense spoke and the team was given more awards. All of the class participants received awards for the week of efforts. The team then took the Bomberos to the trucks (which had finally arrived) and surprised them with all of the gear that was packed in them when they left NC. Needless to say there were a lot of happy (and better protected) Bomberos leaving the base with truck loads of gear. In return, they tried to give us (literally) the shirts off their backs. Unbelieveable group of talented professionals, regardless of the \"Voluntario\" text on their badges. Our trip is almost over. We could say that tomorrow is going to be our fun day, but the fact is that the whole week has been a ball.

Day 8 - Guatemala 2010

Day Eight was our day \"off\". We headed out to Antigua. The trip itself was exciting, with some of the grades at 8% or more and no shortage of people flying. If you ever go, remember that external appearances can be deceiving. The restaurant we ate at was very unassuming from the outside, but the food and the service were excellent - steaks that would melt in your mouth and a dessert named \"Mole\" (pronounced \"Mole-ay\") which was plantains with chocolate sauce and sesame seeds. Muy Bueno! After a few heart-stopping moments on the narrow streets, we made it to a market that Silva was familiar with. Everything from tee-shirts to 2-foot machetes to beautiful handmade jewelry. We let the pros haggle for us: it was obvious early on that we were no match for the canny and skilled merchants! A long climb back up the mountain and home to the barracks for the evening to reflect on a week+ of our hosts sharing their lives and culture with us. We will leave tomorrow, once again impressed with the hard work and determination of the Rescate de Guatemala and the Bomberos Voluntaria (Volunteer Firefighters) that we spent our time with. It was truly the experience of a lifetime, and one that we will cherish. Although we went to Guatemala to teach, along the way we learned a lot ourselves and we owe thanks to those who provided the instruction. Thanks! Luke Steele Captain, REDS Team