Deployment and Evaluation of the SAMU capacities in Madrid, Spain

Deployment and Evaluation of the SAMU capacities in Madrid, Spain

The SAMU First Response team traveled to Madrid, Spain this week to participate in the deployment of the SAMU Group’s emergency intervention team held before the General Director of the Spanish Civil Protection. They were being evaluated in order to participate in the Civil Protection of the European mechanism funds.

The objective of this day was for the General Director of the Spanish Civil Protection to see firsthand the capabilities of Grupo SAMU and their ability to deploy their health team effectively. The health team that would be deployed to any intervention would be made up of five assistance tents, an ambulance to transport critical patients, as well as the organizations team of doctors, nurses and volunteers.

At SAMU First Response we are very proud of all the work that our SAMU Group team has done. We thank the team of doctors, nurses, technicians and volunteers. We continue to advance in our work to serve vulnerable populations during crises and/or natural disasters.

MISSION REPORT: Washington, D.C.—A Year In Review

The SAMU First Response team is an incredibly hard working and resilient force of nature. Pictured here are members of the respite, travel, services and logistics teams.Since its founding by Dr. Carlos Álvarez Leiva in 1981, SAMU has embraced opportunities for growth. What began with emergency medical services expanded to include a school, nursing facilities, homes for unaccompanied minors, and more. Carlos González de Escalada remembers his early days with the organization.

“When I first arrived to SAMU, my team was 25 people. Now we are 3,000,” he said.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the organization would look toward international expansion. Just shy of four decades after inception, SAMU beg

an exploring the potential of an operation based in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Álvarez Leiva’s sons—Juan González de Escalada and Borja González de Escalda—had both lived and worked.

Members of the SAMU First Response Logistics and Service teams work on inventory of supplies donated by partners and the community to welcome newcomers arriving in the nation's capitol.

Members of the SAMU First Response Logistics and Service teams work on inventory of supplies donated by partners and the community to welcome newcomers arriving in the nation’s capitol.

Those first years were spent building partnerships to support the endeavor, including Project HOPE. Their Senior Manager of Domestic Operations, Harley Jones, oversees Project HOPE’s programming in the United States.

“As two globally based NGOs,” Jones said, “Our focus has been on various places around the world, supporting vulnerable populationsfleeing armed conflict or natural disaster. We are organizations that are made up of humanitarians and good people, focused on alleviating human suffering at the worst times of their lives.”

In 2020, a large influx of unaccompanied minors in the U.S. seemed the perfect fit. SAMU had extensive experience serving this vulnerable population, and the team began to explore establishing a shelter similar tothose it currently operated in Spain. But two years later, the team would pivot, transitioning to focus on what has become an incredibly successful mission to provide emergency response on U.S. soil.

The Crisis

On April 22, 2022, buses of migrants began arriving in the District of Columbia from several border crossing points in Texas. A month later, buses also began to arrive from Arizona. Initially, those arriving were met by area aid organizations, including Catholic Charities, the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) and the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network—a coalition of community organizations andvolunteers from the DMV. Abel Nuñez, executive director of CARECEN, remembers the call he received about the first bus from the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs.

“They told me that Catholic Charities would be responding—and they did. That gave me a chance to go to my staff and get commitments that we would [also] respond,” Nuñez said. “Catholic Charities received the first two buses,and on the weekend, CARECEN started its journey in supporting the immigrants.”

Nuñez describes those early days as “organized chaos.” Buses were met at Union Station or in spaces provided by local churches.The teams receiving migrants providedthem with food, clothing, hygienic supplies, and medical attention, while conducting a basic intake. The numbers arriving initially were small—most had other destinations in mind. Less than 15% of migrants sought to stay in the area surrounding the District of Columbia. But, given their arrival in a foreign country, all required some measure of assistance to navigate next steps.

In the early days of arrivals, the SAMU First Response  team received buses at Union Station in Washington, D.C., creating many logistical hurdles to overcome, including inconsistent wifi and lack of storage for supplies. The addition of a permanent reception and respite space has been incredibly impactful for the organization.

In the early days of arrivals, the SAMU First Response team received buses at Union Station in Washington, D.C., creating many logistical hurdles to overcome, including inconsistent wifi and lack of storage for supplies. The addition of a permanent reception and respite space has been incredibly impactful for the organization.

As the pace of arrivals from Texas began to increase, and buses from Arizona began, the logistics became increasingly challenging. “We realized that we needed to build better infrastructure and not think of this flow as temporary, but prepare for sustainability,” Nuñez said. The president of CARECEN’s board knew about the work SAMU Foundation was pursuing in the District and connected him with SAMU’s then Managing Director, Tatiana Laborde, as a potential resource.


“When you are engaged in emergency response during acrisis, the only way to have an effective response is to collaborate with other players on the ground,” Laborde said. “We started looking at the big picture with the early partners, including Catholic Charities and CARECEN.”

“I remember our first phone call,” Nuñez said. “She explained what SAMU was trying to do and offered assistance. At the same time the city was trying to identify an organization to take lead with Federal funding to respond. Both CARECEN and Catholic Charities had made decisions not [to] pursue the funding, but by then, I had been in conversation with Tatiana. I knew SAMU was the right organization, so I began the work of introducing them to the different stakeholders to build trust that they can do the job.”

“Tatiana was very quick to provide a response,” said Carlos González de Escalada, the Chairman of the Board for what would become SAMU First Response. “We said yes—go for it. Without a doubt.” The alliance between SAMU, CARECEN and Catholic Charities was formed. That coalition, along with the strategic partnerships with Montgomery County and the District of Columbia, remain foundational to the operation as it exists today.

The Operation

Once established as the lead response entity, SAMU applied for funds through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Spain sent experienced emergency response teams in to aid with policies and procedures that would enable the local team to refine the process. Hiring staff became a major focus, and a space in Montgomery County was identified for overnight respite—which the Spain team was integral in getting set up. With all the pieces falling into place, on June 21, 2022, SAMU First Response was able to officially open the doors to its new Respite Center.

Members of the SAMU First Response team sort tiny handmade quilts donated by Church World Service. These comforting blankets are given to children upon arriving at our respite facility after an often traumatic journey.

Members of the SAMU First Response team sort tiny handmade quilts donated by Church World Service. These comforting blankets are given to children upon arriving at our respite facility after an often traumatic journey.

“It allowed us to provide a more humane service to the migrants arriving,” Laborde said. “The interaction with arriving migrants transformed once we had a real respite facility available. It became less transactional because there was less of a push to get them on to their next destination. It allowed us space to breathe. The conversation shifted to, ‘Okay, let’s sit down. Have a meal that is not outside. Get cleaned up.’ We were able to restore their humanity.”

González de Escalada was there in those early days, with his sleeves rolled up, sweeping and mopping floors alongside the local team. When asked what SAMU was bringing to the table in this situation, González de Escalada had a clear answer: “immediate first response.”

“In a social crisis, like migration, somebody has to bring the experience and the management procedures in an intrinsically chaotic situation. When you are managing a crisis, you need to get your priorities really straight, because if you don’t know what you are doing in a crisis, you can make matters worse,” he said.

The Update

Since the beginning of the mission, SAMU First Response has met almost 200 buses and welcomed more than 7,500 individuals.The team has provided nearly 10,000 nights of respite and more than 32,000 meals.

Arrivals continue to fluctuate, sometimes widely. Although Texas buses stopped after December 2022, three arrived in less than a week in mid-May 2023. Arizona, which for the early part of 2023 was sending an average of one bus per week, now plans to send at least three. Buses are also not the only way migrants are coming into SAMU’s care. Referrals from both jurisdictional and community partners account for a large number of recent arrivals, which can vary between one to as many as 46 individuals per day. Transitions between jurisdictions are also on the rise, as migrants search for the best opportunities for themselves and their families.

Another growing trend has required additional overnight capacity. Whereas when the crisis began, only 15% wished to stay in the area, that figure is now closer to 50%. This has resulted in increased pressure for the District of Columbia to look for solutions. A newly formalized partnership with the District’s Office of Migrant Services has increased coordination on these efforts, and SAMU continues to work closely with the jurisdiction to identify contingency plans and, hopefully, an additional space for a respite facility within the city.

Quote from SAMU Employee: "This job here makes me happy. It's the first time when I wake up in my life and I am happy to go into work. I fell like I am going to change somebody's life."

Despite these fluctuations, SAMU First Response remains ready for whatever comes next. CARECEN’s Abel Nuñez says it was an incredible amount of work to get to this point, but that he’s seen how relationship-building has led to SAMU’s success here.

“I consider SAMU an equal partner in the response,” he said. “We have kept an open line of communication and supported each other as we continue to build better infrastructure.”

SAMU First Response continues to build the operation, experiencing both incredible wins and challenging losses in what can be a very high-stress work environment. The biggest losses have been experienced through the loss of key internal staff. But, González de Escalada said, the team is resilient. Having a new mission with new staff and new leaders is challenging. Ideally, he explained, new leaders would be placed with existing staff, or new staff with existing leaders. That just wasn’t possible in this situation, yet he has been very impressed with what the team has accomplished.

“The biggest strength is that they love the job. They really believe in the cause. And when you believe in what you are doing, everything else is easier,” he said. “They have been brave, resilient, professional, eager to learn, and give their best. They have been compassionate. They have been kind.”

“They have done a fabulous, fabulous job. I don’t have words to thank them. The overwhelming feeling is gratitude. I am grateful, and very proud of the SAMU First Response team.”

SAMU First Response Managing Director, Andrea Gallegos Montilla, holding a copy of SAMU Magazine, meets with Chairman of the SAMU First Response Board, Carlos Escalada. Escalada is also the Chairman and CEO of Grupo Samu, a health and social services organization headquartered in Seville, Spain.

SAMU First Response Managing Director, Andrea Gallegos Montilla, holding a copy of SAMU Magazine, meets with Chairman of the SAMU First Response Board, Carlos Escalada. Escalada is also the Chairman and CEO of Grupo Samu, a health and social services organization headquartered in Seville, Spain.


A Culture of Recognition

In January 2023, 3.9 million employees resigned from their jobs in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s actually a decrease in employee loss over the previous 14 months. Each month since November of 2021, the U.S. job market has suffered the loss of more than 4 million voluntary separations initiated by employees. It’s being called the “Great Resignation”. What can companies, including SAMU, do to increase retention?

The answer is recognition.

“I’m a big advocate of using recognition on a daily basis,” Dr. Bob Nelson, author of 1,001 Ways to Reward Employees, told Business Insider in March of 2015. Nelson co-founded Employee Appreciation Day with his publisher nearly three decades ago. 

“By no means is Employee Appreciation Day meant to be this one day to thank people or this one day to bring in doughnuts,” he explained. “But I did want to have one day where we could call attention to the topic and have conversations about its importance.” 

In Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace: 2022” report, the Washington, D.C.-based management consulting company revealed that only a third of workers feel engaged, with 19% reporting they are miserable at work. These figures come in the aftermath of a massive shift during Covid toward more work-life balance, so what is driving this dissatisfaction?

Employees reported their chief complaint to be “unfair treatment at work.” Gallup’s report includes several factors that contribute to that takeaway, including lack of community and contribution acknowledgment. In fact, a survey by PlanBeyond, a Seattle-based market research company, found that feeling undervalued significantly eclipsed compensation as the top motivational factor for quitting across age and gender demographics. Gallup reported other factors contributing to employee job dissatisfaction as unmanageable workloads, lack of clarity in communication and support from managers, and overall burnout. 

“A lot of employees today — and particularly the younger generation — expect to be recognized on a daily basis,” Dr. Nelson told Business Insider. “It’s not because they want to be pumped up or because they have a frail ego, it’s because they’re smart enough to realize that in the fast-moving and dynamic times we’re in today, you have to have a steady stream of feedback.”

Unfortunately, disengaged employees impact the bottom line whether they leave their job or not. Employees who are not engaged in the workplace cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. Turnover is also expensive. In a 2017 retention report published by the Work Institute, the cost of turnover was estimated to be nearly a third of a worker’s annual salary. Given this, addressing job satisfaction and retention must be of critical importance to employers.

Great Place to Work bills itself as, “the global authority on workplace culture.” In a blog post from early March, they defined several areas where employers could recognize their workforce, including achievements, exhibiting desired behaviors, going above and beyond expectations, and employee milestones, such as length of service. The article highlighted O.C. Tanner, a global leader in software and service that is highly rated by Great Place to Work, for conducting an internal survey that asked employees a simple question: “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?” The answers were surprising. Three percent wanted a promotion. Seven percent a raise. But a whopping 37% said they were motivated by recognition. 

The post gave the following tips on employee recognition when attempting to create a culture of recognition in the workplace. 

  1. Be specific, be relevant. Tie recognition to a specific accomplishment or business objective. Relating the recognition to the behavior encourages more of the same, something Dr. Nelson mentioned in the Business Insider article: “What you reinforce, you will get more of. It is absolutely guaranteed.”
  2. Be timely. Recognition needs to be prompt to be seen as authentic.
  3. Recognition comes in many shapes and sizes. Recognition doesn’t have to be financial or extravagant. It can be a gift card for coffee at a local coffee shop, company swag, or even just a certificate of appreciation. 
  4. Little things go a long way. Managers don’t need a special occasion or act of service to thank their employees. Peer appreciation is also highly motivational. 
  5. Connect to the bigger picture. Recognition helps employees see how their contribution strengthens their team and the larger organization. Great Place to Work stresses the importance of this particularly in times of growth or change, which reinstills a sense of safety and reminds employees of their importance to the mission.

Because SAMU First Response cares deeply about making sure our team understands how valued they are, we wanted to highlight the contributions of several Service Specialists from our Respite Team in this month’s article. We hope you enjoy getting to know some of our staff and why they love working with SAMU.



“My main job here is [providing] service to people,” Ivone said, pointing to tasks such as dispensing medicine, clothing, shoes, information and food. She shares that she believes if she

does things with love, that’s what she is going to get in return. Recognition plays a role in her job satisfaction, and she gets a lot from SAMU’s guests, who often give her blessings. “My favorite part of my job is when people smile and say thank you.”

She remembers getting to work with the children staying at the center, a part of the job she really enjoyed. They loved the positive reinforcement as well. She would see parents telling their kids to get up if they were having a temper tantrum on the floor. Many had experienced incredible trauma and, to Ivone, this was part of their processing those experiences. “I like when they are allowed to just feel,” she said. 

There were three guests she remembers in particular. Little girls from Russia in a center where most, including Ivone, spoke mostly Spanish. She taught all of the kids a song in Spanish and these girls were able to learn it as well. “That was the part where I had an important connection,” she said. “I was able to reach them, even though they spoke another language.”

“A lot of people say, ‘You remind me of my mom’,” Ivone explained. “They saw me like a mom. That means that I am doing a good job. It makes me proud of myself … of what my parents taught me to do in my life.”



“My favorite part of my job is helping people,” Anyi said, who is involved with arranging travel for arriving migrants. She says it has been surprising how open people have been in sharing their stories with her. 

She shared being particularly impacted by the mothers who are separated from their husband’s at the border. For some, their story takes a tragic turn as they learn the family’s main breadwinner has been deported. They face being in a strange country alone, homeless, with two, three or five kids to feed. But there are silver linings, like one mom from Columbia. “We were able to connect them to a program locally that provided support to help her with housing.”

Anyi is the mother of a beautiful, bubbly, 15-month-old miracle child. After being told she would never be able to have a child, her son Angel came into her life and changed everything. She says she would do anything for him, which is why Anyi understands how parents make the agonizing decision to take this journey, despite the dangers. Angel has made her realize how precious our children are, and how desperate those who are coming must be to put that child in harm’s way.

She remembers a mom with five kids, her youngest the same age as Angel. The family faced a critical point after making their way through the Darién Gap with no food or water left. The baby became unresponsive, yet, somehow, they were able to get him to a hospital. The doctor told them if they had not arrived when they did that the child would have died.

“My baby is my life, my everything;” Anyi said. “I could not do what she did. They are taking a huge risk to have a better life. When I speak with the [guest] and we find an organization that can help them … just seeing their face, their happiness when they are going to a good place, a safe place that fills my heart.” 



Nathalie is a Service Specialist at the Respite Center. The team has found she has a special gift for event planning, which was most recently demonstrated with a Zumba class and live serenade in honor of Día de la Mujer. She also works with children staying at the facility. Natalie remembers a young girl who came to her to ask for special cream for her hair. That struck a chord.

“When I arrived here in the United States, I tried to find the best products for me and nobody advised me,” She said, remembering going to a local pharmacy and the struggle of trying to find what she needed without being able to speak English very well. She was grateful to be able to help this guest with getting the right products for her hair. 

“For me, this job is something personal,” Nathalie said. “I want to be here because I know how difficult it is to arrive here.” But that’s not the only reason she has been able to connect on a deep level with guests. 

“I am a domestic violence survivor. My ex-husband abandoned me when we arrived. He took my daughter away from me, too.” Nathalie fought hard to get her daughter back, and has turned her experience into a resource at SAMU when encountering guests in similar situations. She shares her personal story with them when they express worry about next steps. 

“I started from the beginning here,” Nathalie tells them. “No food, no friends. From my experience, I swear everything is going to be different.” Sometimes the guests listen and lean in to get support. Other times, they are not ready to leave their partner.

“When women ask for help here, I feel the pressure to try to help — even take them home. I feel obligated to help them,” She said. But Nathalie also realizes that isn’t a possibility, that the best thing she can do to help is connect them with resources. Tell them how the system works here in the United States. Being able to do even that much is a win in her book.

“One of my goals was to have a job like this,” Nathalie said. “This job here makes me happy. It’s the first time I wake up in my life and I am happy to go to work. I feel like I am going to change somebody’s life.” 

Although the stories of only three team members were featured here, the management team would like to tell each SAMU employee how much their work is valued. You are an incredible asset to our mission and your dedication is what makes this organization strong. YOU are SAMU. 

Please follow SAMU First Response on social media to meet more of our employees and learn about their SAMU story.

The Power of Trust

Trust is foundational to what non-profit organizations do. It matters in every aspect of operations, beginning with the interpersonal relationships required when building teams. Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last, writes, “A team is not a group of people who work together. It is a group of people who trust each other.” 

Employees need to trust their leadership to forward the mission and prevent turnover. Similarly, when volunteers trust an organization, they will go out of their way to support their work. Trust also matters when seeking financial support. Every dollar or in-kind donation that is given to an organization is born of trust. In fact, in a publication titled, The Future of Trust, the international professional services company Deloitte reported that “trustworthy companies outperform non-trustworthy companies by 2.5 times.” 

But there is perhaps no place more critical for trust to exist than in the creation of strategic partnerships. 

SAMU has a long history of forging such relationships, including with fellow NGO, Project HOPE. Harley Jones is Project HOPE’s Senior Manager of Domestic Operations. He oversees the organization’s programming in the United States. 

“Trust is essential in our work because we are not selling products. We are organizations that are made up of humanitarians and good people, focused on alleviating human suffering at the worst times of their lives,” Jones said.

With two decades of experience in this field, Jones has seen partnerships that work, and others that fail. “There are a number of organizations that don’t like collaborating because it takes attention away [from them],” He said. But that’s just one of several factors that can lead to failure. Sometimes, Jones explained, the values and mission of the partners are just too different. Motives get questioned, and the lack of trust becomes an obstacle. “At the end of the day,” Jones said, “Mission is important,” explaining that – when values and mission align – it creates the perfect environment for a partnership to flourish. 

“You build that trust internally,” He said. “You know when you face a barrier, that other organization is often going to view it in the same way you do. That creates the opportunity to work together in other areas because you can go into it with that understanding without having to work around it. It’s that place where your values converge with your approach, your compassion and your focus on mission.”  

The Start Of A Beautiful Friendship

A mutual partner introduced SAMU to Project HOPE in 2017. The similarities between the organizations were evident immediately. “As two globally-based NGOs,” Harley Jones said, “Our focus has been on various places around the world, supporting vulnerable populations fleeing armed conflict or natural disaster.” 

SAMU and Project HOPE began looking for ways they might partner. It didn’t take long to identify an opportunity. In November of 2018, Juan González de Escalada Álvarez, Grupo SAMU’s Director of Operations Grupo Samu’s and Director of SAMU School, headed to Venezuela on what would become the first of many joint operations.

“I was asked to enter Venezuela with them to ascertain the Venezuelan Migrant Crisis,” He said. “We spent several days around Cúcuta in Colombia and the Venezuelan region of El Táchira.” The teams were exploring whether SAMU could provide Health Emergencies Training to local humanitarian organizations managing a large influx of displaced Venezuelans. 

That venture led to a significant partnership toward the end of 2020 in Honduras. The country was reeling from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic when Tropical Storm Eta hit, followed closely by Hurricane Iota. The Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) activated Emergency Medical Teams to assist with the resulting crisis. SAMU joined that mission, with Project Hope partnering to provide the financial support that allowed SAMU’s team to meet the needs of nearly 1,200 patients. 

Most recently, Project HOPE supported SAMU in Moldova and Romania, where our teams on the ground provided support to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. During this joint mission, the teams were able to provide three and a half months of care for migrants affected by the crisis. Project HOPE provided 60 percent of the funding necessary for SAMU to perform more than 2000 medical consultations.  

Jones explained that the relationship between Project Hope and SAMU was a natural fit because of how well the strengths of the organizations align. Jean Oelwang, president and founding CEO of Virgin Unite, describes in her book, Partnering, how that alignment cultivates something she calls “Deep Connections.”

“Deep Connections are relationships of purpose that make us who we are,” She writes. “They are the enduring ‘got your back’ friendships found in all aspects of our lives. These relationships help us become our best selves and multiply the impact we make in the world.”

On Mission Every Day

Project HOPE’s mission is simple, but critically important: Empower frontline health care workers. Prior to the pandemic, the organization’s main focus had been geared toward vulnerable populations in the developing world. Covid travel restrictions rendered that work nearly impossible, requiring the organization to pivot toward domestic assistance. 

Jones said that, during this time, the NGO leaned heavily on their robust emergency response capability to help provide surge staffing to support frontline workers in some of the hardest hit areas, including Chicago/Cook County, Harris County in Texas and within the Navajo Nation. A strong supply chain allowed the organization to provide more than 18 million pieces of PPE across 15 countries in 2021 alone.    “We know enough about the work that we do to know that it has to be needs-based and it has to be fast,” Jones said. Other organizations are not that nimble, he explained, which is why Project HOPE was so drawn to partnering with SAMU. The migrant crisis in Washington, D.C., is a prime example. Although SAMU was in the United States hoping to open the organization’s first unaccompanied minor shelter on American soil, the teams on the ground were able to change gears quickly to tackle a new mission: Meeting the needs of thousands of migrants being bussed to the Nation’s capitol from the border of Mexico.

Meeting Crisis Head-On … Together

As SAMU First Response transitioned into a leadership role in addressing Washington, D.C.’s unfolding migrant crisis – which Mayor, Muriel Bowser, later would declare a state of emergency – one of the first calls made was to Project HOPE. Jones remembers that call, and the very direct and clear asks that were made.

“We need some capacity-building and support around logistics,” Jones remembers the SAMU team saying, which he shares is Project HOPE’s specialty – particularly when it comes to government funding. The organization runs $10 Million in programming with the federal government and has extensive experience with the reporting and documentation necessary when managing federal dollars.

SAMU First Response’s Respite Manager, Jeisson Cartagena, adds that the procurement process also presented a challenge for the growing team. “I didn’t have that much information on how to navigate government funding,” He said. “Project HOPE had that experience and was able to send someone to work with our team to help us better understand the process.” 

Jones recalls SAMU’s second ask: “We need some training around the stress, mental health and resiliency of our staff. We need tools that can help them take care of themselves and the people they are serving.” Project HOPE responded, providing classes on a variety of topics, from psychological first aid and gender-based violence, to sexual exploitation and de-escalation.

Cartagena remembers the resiliency training provided by Project HOPE as being extremely impactful for the staff. Migrants staying in SAMU’s respite center had been sharing stories of the violence, including sexual, experienced during their journey. 

“It created so much pressure for the staff,” He said. “Just hearing the stories… they did not know how to answer. We were hearing this information and keeping it to ourselves. That was the worst part of this work. It was really, really hard for our team.”

The resiliency workshop coupled with the psychological first aid training helped the SAMU team begin to understand the psychological process guests in their were experiencing. Cartagena said it shed light on why they might act a certain way and how to address issues as they arose. 

“That was important,” He explains, “Because it gave us the tools for how to handle this process. It is something we cannot change, but we can listen and put ourselves in their shoes. Just listening is the best way that we can help them. Now we are able to better care for our guests, and separate what is happening at work from our home lives.”

The final ask was perhaps the most critical, as buses previously bound for Union Station – a transportation hub in the heart of the city – began dropping migrants near the Naval Observatory and private residence of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. The immediate surrounding area is largely unpopulated and migrants dropped without notice struggled to know where to go for assistance upon arrival. Jones remembers SAMU’s request around this challenge distinctly: “We need a large vehicle that can move people.”

In less time than than anyone would believe, the keys to a 14-passenger van were being handed to Cartagena. “Project HOPE was really focused on getting us the best possible option,” He said, adding that, suddenly, the weight of trying to arrange reliable transportation was lifted. Picking people up from wherever they were dropped off was no longer an issue, but that gift provided so much more. 

We can now take people to medical appointments. We can take them to Baltimore to change their address with ICE,” Cartagena said. “I was feeling like it was helping me to do my job better every day. I was feeling like it was for me, even though it was for SAMU. [Project HOPE] told me something like, ‘I hope this helps to make your job easier.’ And definitely it did.”

Jones says that partnering in this space has only increased the organization’s interest in further supporting SAMU’s work. As the trust between the NGOs grows, so does the value of the partnership between SAMU and Project HOPE. 

“It has made it even stronger,” Jones said. “Our relationship and trust were built on years of working together around the world. We have [now] shown that we can continue to work together in the United States. As SAMU looks to increase and expand their work here, Project HOPE stands ready, willing and able to support that work in any way we can.

3D printer

SAMU sets up a 3D lab to produce medical equipment

SAMU’s engineering department has set up a digital production lab (FabLab), in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The spaces is intended to produce non industrial objects using a 3D printer. The lab produces face masks for children and adults, ear-saving pieces, face shields, and other pieces to adapt different products such as diving masks, into respirators so that students and health professionals could use them as practice equipment during training drills. 

“During the pandemic, we all and in particular at SAMU felt de need to fight at all fronts and use all available resources to overcome the shortage of protection methods available a couple of moths ago. This is a proyect that has been undergoing for a while, to be quickly implemented” Explains Juan Antonio Tocino, responsible for the engineering department at SAMU. “The proyect was set to full motion on Mach 21, upon the arrival of the new 3D printer. That same week we started to print pieces to fight Covid-19”

FabLab has since produced over 300 units for different purposes. “This is an important amount given the limited space and the short time since the inception of the lab. We are looking forward to continuing to grow, receive the additional equipment needed and the official accreditation.” says Tocino.

In Seville, like other parts of Spain, there is a move for people and organizations to print 3D products to supply what is needed to fight Covid-19. In Seville, the FabLab with one of the biggest production lines is the one at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de la Universidad de Sevilla, which counts with over 150 volunteers and has produced close to 20,000 PPEs, according to the University.  

“During the pandemic there has been a great spirit of collaboration at the international level and we have set to the community all available models to facilitate printing. In the case of hospital grade respirators, there had been a model published to adapt a scuba mask, but there was none for a portable respirator. This was developed by SAMU and open to the use of the 3D community” Mentions Tocino. “The spirit of collaboration among the 3D community has allowed for the open dialog on the usage of models and best practices”.

SAMU has been working with different 3D printing groups that focus on medical and technical equipment, among  which there is a radiology 3D center supported by the American Radiology Society. The team has also counted with the support of Ama Moreno Ballestero, MD at the Servicio de Radiodiagnóstico y Medicina Nuclear del Hospital Virgen Macarena de Sevilla; and Javier García Sola, Architect with the Sociedad Estatal de Correos y Telégrafos de España.

Ilunion Seville

SAMU transforms a Hotel in Seville into a COVID-19 care unit

Among the actions undertaken by SAMU during the COVID-19 crisis, is the establishment of a temporary medical center to assist the elderly population affected by the virus. The center is located in the Ilunion Alcora Seville Hotel, located in San Juan de Aznalfarache.

This center, alongside others in La Linea (Cadiz), Granada and Malaga are part of our assistant to the local authorities to support this vulnerable population as assisted living facilities cannot accommodate their medical needs.

SAMU’s team has set up, in record time, a center with five specialized chambers, intensive care units and rooms for the center’s medical personnel. The hotel is part of ILUNION Gestion S.A, who has offered their hotels to the local authorities make this project a reality.