An intervention team from SAMU has been deployed to El Salvador in response to a call from their government to SAMU First Response at the beginning of July. The team of 28 is there to help them as they face the sanitary crisis caused by COVID-19.

Given the situation in El Salvador, the Ministerio de Salud made an official call to Carlos Álvarez Leiva, President of SAMU, to provide assistance to a national hospital in San Salvador, the nations capital. The hospital has been recently inaugurated by president Nayub Bukele. The hospital counts with 1,000 beds of emergency and ICU support, making it the biggest hospital in Latin America. The urgent petition comes as there is a great need of volunteer medical support at all levels for at least a month. This call also comes with a need for instruction and knowledge transfer, something deep into SAMU’s mission and structure.

To respond to the call, SAMU has gone through an intense selection process in which more than a 100 professionals from different parts of Spain have applied. On July 29, 2020 the team of 28 professionals departed to San Salvador on a month long mission.

Juan Gonzalez Escalada

Juan Gonzalez Escalada

Mission Leader

Juan has 12 years of experience as an Emergency Coordinator and 10 years as an instructor in the Emergencies, Catastrophes and Humanitarian Aid Master’s Degree in the Field of CBRN Management.
“After many years of preaching in the dessert, all our experience and teachings have sadly come to fruition. The pandemic, has represented an enormous challenge to all society and to health care professionals in particular. We find comfort knowing that our alumni have been better prepared, and have been able to help others get ready, to provide the best possible care.”.
He has participated in deployments for humanitarian interventions in emergencies in Asia, Europe and Africa, taking a leading role in the hospitalization of the Alcora Hotel as a COVID center for the elderly in March 2020.
“We have been overwhelmed by the institutional reception and the warm welcome by all Salvadorians. Even more so, the team at Hospital del Salvador have been extremely generous allowing us to review all their protocols and processes, and granting us access to every corner. We hope our mission has made a positive impact in their professionals that helps them overcome the situation better and faster.”

Andres Rodrigues Holst

Andres Rodrigues Holst

Team Leader

Andrés has 15 years of experience as an ER and ICU nurse and 7 years as an instructor in the Emergencies, Catastrophes and Humanitarian Aid Master’s Degree.
“During the pandemic, all of us healthcare workers had experienced a side of our professions that has changed the way we think and act on our day-to-day work. My scope of nursing being in humanitarian relief, with El Salvador I got to experience another facet of the deployments I am used to”.
He has participated in deployments for humanitarian interventions in emergencies, conflicts, the COVID Pandemic and with forced displacement victims in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Eastern Mediterranean regions over the past 12 years.
“This project brought challenges since its conception and compared to other interventions in my field. Aside from requiring a special care team during the COVID situation, it demanded that we changed the way we approach and structure our planning and logistics, how we managed and integrated the local staff and our team, the whole line of work had to be rethinked. I am very fond of this project since it was a first of its type for me and the overwhelming support that we received form the central government was unparalleled, which makes it a unique experience.”

Lucía Sánchez Cruces

Lucía Sánchez Cruces

Nurse and Master UECAH SAMU

Lucia has 14 years of experience as an ER Nurse and 7 years as an instructor in the Masters of ER, catastrophes and humanitarian aid.

"Good attitude and the willinges to serve in our jobs is what compensates when there is a shortage of resources"

This is her first experience as an international volunteer. Although she has extensive experience and considered that her expectations were close to the realities, this mission has made her rethink the objectives to adjust to the local needs.

"I think of this mission as a beautiful project in which we are not only sharing our knowledge but also helping to improve organizational structures and procedures. This is a demanding challenge in which our efforts must be multiplied to improve local conditions"

Mission El Salvador 2020: Elite force against Covid-19

COVID-19 El Salvador

An intervention team from SAMU has been deployed to El Salvador in response to a call from their government to SAMU First Response at the beginning of July. The team of 28 is there to help them as they face the sanitary crisis caused by COVID-19. 

Given the situation in El Salvador, the Ministerio de Salud made an official call to Carlos Álvarez Leiva, President of SAMU, to provide assistance to a national hospital in San Salvador, the nations capital. The hospital has been recently inaugurated by president Nayub Bukele. The hospital counts with 1,000 beds of emergency and ICU support, making it the biggest hospital in Latin America. The urgent petition comes as there is a great need of volunteer medical support at all levels for at least a month. This call also comes with a need for instruction and knowledge transfer, something deep into SAMU’s mission and structure. 

To respond to the call, SAMU has gone through an intense selection process in which more than a 100 professionals from different parts of Spain have applied. On July 29th, the team of 28 professionals departed to San Salvador on a month long mission. 

The volunteers reported for duty on July 28th at the Escuela SAMU facilities in Gelves, Seville to depart to Madrid on a bus organized by our team. On July 29 they left on a charter plane to San Salvador. 

“We are a young team with a call to service and a willingness to share the institutional knowledge we have acquired during the last 30 years of missions and 20 years of training from our organization. We are eager to share the best practices that have been developed from the protocols on the fight against covid in Spain.” Says Juan Gonzales de Escalada, director of SAMU emergency services and leader of the mission. 

The departure was attended by many of our local authorities who came to wish the best to our team as they departed on this trip. Among them were Rafael García Villa, delegate from the Human Resources and Mobilization office from the local mayor’s office; Carma Tápies, Leader of the Humanitarian Action office in the Andaluza Agency of International Cooperation; Christophe Sougey De Funes, French Consul in Seville; Ignacio de Cossío Pérez de Mendoza, Consul from El Salvador in Seville; Alfonso Carmona Martínez, president of the School of Doctors in Seville; and Pilar Cordero Ramos, Vice President of the School of Nursing in Seville. 

Before the departure there were many emotional moments from our volunteers and their families as they wished them good luck and said their goodbyes. 

“As a mother I am afraid, what she is going to do is dangerous, there is a risk of contagion but I understand that is her calling and I’m here to support” said one of the relatives from our volunteers. 

As of July 29th there are approximately 270 new cases a day in El Salvador. 87% of the confirmed cases are in the nation’s capital. The Salvadorian Ministry of Health identified the first original cases of Covid-19 in the country back on April 10. At the beginning of July there were of 8,000 cases and 209 diseased. Health authorities predict the peak to hit in August and the country does not count with enough professionals to respond. 

“The call for medical volunteers will create a long lasting impact in our country. We are excited to continue building our relationship with SAMU Foundation as we all continue the fight against the virus, always improving the condition of our community” as stated by the Government of El Salvador. 

SAMU has extensive expertise in emergency interventions during catastrophes and has acquired a lot of know how in the fight against Covid-19. During the time of peak cases in Spain, SAMU was at the frontlines of the response, providing sanitary response by setting up temporary hospitals in Hotel Alcora, located San Juan de Aznalfarache in Seville, and the Residence del Tiempo Libre El Burgo, located in Línea de la Concepción, Cádiz, in order to provide medical services to elderly people with  Covid-19. SAMU also participated in the transfer of Covid patients from Madrid and Toledo. 

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