One of the most important things to know before moving to or visiting Panama, is that you cannot rely on ambulances. No matter the emergency, your best bet is most likely going to be to get yourself to the hospital.
If you browse through one of my favourite newspapers in Panama, La Critica, you’ll notice in the case of a shoot out or stabbing, the victim is almost always transported to the hospital by the police. At first I thought it was a little odd that a call to the ambulance was not the first move. Once you’ve seen the traffic in Panama City it makes sense.
In some cases it could take an ambulance an hour to reach an injured person in Panama City, add to that another hour to get to the hospital. Cut out the middle man and you’ve just saved your self an hour and possibly your life.
The story is similar, but with a different twist when you look at Panama’s interior provinces. I got to see the reality first hand when I witnessed a terrible car accident this past weekend. Heading home from fishing in El Ciruelo, a pick-up truck with two young guys was in a deep ditch just outside of Pedasi. The accident was serious. The driver had been ejected through the windshield (no seat belt), and was lying 5 meters away in the middle of the road.
A passerby quickly scooped up the guy from the road and rushed towards the hospital. The passenger was injured, but not quite as seriously. We put him in our car and sped towards Pedasi. The accident happened on Sunday so the medical center in Pedasi was closed. The next best option was for us to take the injured passenger to the police station in Pedasi, since they would be able to transport him quicker to the hospital in Las Tablas. Just as we reached the police station, the ambulance which had been dispatched at the time of the accident was finally pulling in to Pedasi. After flagging the ambulance down, they ran out with a stretcher and rushed the guy to the hospital.
By driving the injured passenger to Pedasi to meet the ambulance, we saved an hour off of his trip to the hospital. Unfortunately the driver did not survive the crash. The passenger who we transported is still in the ICU.
Coincidentally, in today’s newspaper there was a story about there being just two ambulances in the entire province of Los Santos. One in Las Tablas and one in Macaracas. Not very good odds if you ever need an ambulance.
|Written by Rebecca Tyre|
This post's rating: