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SAMU teams working at the frontlines of COVID19

More than 64,000 people have tested positive, there are over 4,000 in ICU and over 4,800 have died. Those were the numbers of COVID-19 in Spain as of February 27. Numbers that will tragically continue to grow. Madrid is one of the regions mostly affected in the country by the epidemic. More than half of the diseased nationwide are from this area. To this, there is a growing number of healthcare professionals infected and under quarantine. With over 10,000 workers affected, hospitals have experienced an important shortage in the times of crisis. To this end and following a call from the health department of the Junta de Andalucía, SAMU is working to provide support to the province of Malaga as well as in mobilizing special units to the Comunidad de Madrid. 

SAMU has mobilized three intensive surveillance units, a high capacity vehicle and four units of volunteers with over twenty medical professionals to support operations in Madrid in order to safely move a group of senior citizens that have tested positive to COVID-19 to treatment centers throughout the area. This is a highly demanding job, both physically and emotionally because it forces medical teams to work with protective gear which distances them from patients and are extremely uncomfortable. To add to the arduous routine, the personnel has to follow strict guidelines to disinfect and change after each shift. “Taking care of you to be able to take care of others” is as Juan Gonzales de Escalada, SAMU’s Chief of Operations describes it. 

At the same time, SAMU is working on the transfer of 28 COVID patients from a senior residence in Alacala del Valle in the province of Cadiz. This mission, authorized by the Junta de Andalucia, has been set in motion as a virus outbreak had been identified in the residence, affecting both residents and their supportive personnel. Originally, a group of six health professionals from SAMU were mobilized to the residence. The team was composed of one doctor, one nurse, two emergency technicians and two nurse assistants. The team was led by Andres Rodrigues, a nurse, who conducted a survey of the situation, analyzed the conditions of the elderly and recommended their transfer to a temporary hospital that SAMU had set in the Residencia El Burgo, located in La Linea de la Concepcion. After this, the medical team proceeded to a full disinfecting cleanup of the residency. 

For the transfer of the patients, SAMU provided one bus, six ambulances and two special support ambulances. The transfer counted with a caravan from the national police. During this time, a team of other five professionals were setting up the temporary hospital in La Linea. A day after the transfer, a large number of agents from security and health services from the state sounded sirens in honor of the elderly at the doors of the temporary hospital. Sirens and applauses were followed by SAMU’s team, who showed their solidarity and gratefulness with applauses from inside the premises. Neighbors from the municipality held a large sign that read “You are also our grandparents”. 

Today, 24 SAMU professionals are caring for a total of 28 patients. The security measures are high and all personnel count with the proper PPE. 

“This is a hard and pure humanitarian action, as says our boss Carlos Alvarez Leiva, it’s a textbook crisis” Says Andres Rodrigues, supervisor of the temporary hospital in La Linea. “I am very surprised. I have been to many humanitarian missions in places like Siria and Libia, but I never imagined to be living such a situation in this part of Europe”.

On another front, SAMU continues to provide services in Malaga, where it moves between three to four patients on a daily basis. In addition, the Empresa Publica de Emergencias Sanitarias has requested that SAMU presents a contingency plan of up to 150 workers ready to support all stages of the crisis. Fortunately SAMU’s personnel has received training on the use of PPE and are used to working in high risk areas including working under areas of viral infections. According to Gonzalez de Escalada “its about taking the most extreme precautions”. 

At the closing of SAMU’s march magazine edition, we are still in action helping in all fronts of the crisis with a plan of action and a series of projects to support the local authorities such as the set up of homeless shelters in Madrid and Seville, and the opening of a temporary hospital in the hotel Aljarafe in Seville, aimed at treatment of the elder population. SAMU’s General Director, Carlos Gonzales de Escalada has put his entire organization and resources to the disposal of local authorities and the society in general to contribute to its maximum capacity in the solution of the current health crisis. 

SAMU joins the efforts to increase access to Automatic External Defibrillators around the world

SAMU is now joining forces with the Cisali Project, a free mobile app that provides users the opportunity to search for and register the location of automatic external defibrillators (AED) around the world. 

Ever year, around 1.8 million people die of cardiac arrest. Everyone is vulnerable to cardiac arrest, this could happen any time and any place and access to an AED could be a game changing factor. 

Cisali is an independent NGO with the sole purpose of saving lives through the quick access to an AED.

This app also aims to create awareness to the role and support than anyone can bring to aid someone. Users can register as CPR certified and enable themselves to help as first responder. 

Through the app, users can:

  1. Locate the nearest AED 
  2. Call the local emergency services (911)
  3. Locate a CPR certified individual nearby

The app has no commercial purposes and it’s entirely free and crowdsource, so the more users, the better the information. To learn more, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvIAJFbJZ8E 

Close to 600 children under the protection of SAMU

The massive arrival of immigrants in small boats to the Andalusian coast in recent years has put all the social entities involved in this phenomenon on alert, among them the SAMU Foundation, which currently hosts about 560 minors who have arrived clandestinely to Spain without being accompanied by an adult. These are distributed among the 16 different centers available to the organization. On the one hand, the so-called Temporary Emergency Accommodation Units or Immediate Care centers, and, on the other, the Basic Residential Care centers. Most of them come from Morocco, although there are also children from Guinea, Senegal, Mali and Ivory Coast.

Irregular immigration has more than doubled so far this year compared to the figures of 2017, which were alarming then. Spain is already the main access route to Europe, surpassing Italy. Up to the 15th of July, the irregular immigrants who had entered this year in Spain, mostly by sea and on the coast of Andalusia, already numbered 15,686, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior —the European agency Frontex raises this to 18,016 for the same period—, 114% more than in 2017, when the figure had already increased by 170%.

Many of these immigrants are unaccompanied foreign minors. In the first seven months of 2018, some 3,200 unaccompanied foreign minors came to Andalusia through its shores, a thousand of them in July alone, compared to 2,855 in all of last year, according to data from the Andalusian Government.

This year, the SAMU Foundation, by order of the Board, has opened, as of yet, 11 new resources aimed at this group. Two of them are Basic Residential Care centers, and the rest are Immediate Care centers.

The last two emergency temporary shelter resources were opened in August in Guillena (Seville) and Jimena (Cádiz). In addition to these, there are two more in the province of Cádiz open this year and two more in 2017, two in the province of Almeria, and three in that of Granada, all of them active from this year.

In terms of Basic Residential Care resources, which allow minors to remain at the center until children reach legal adulthood, SAMU has three resources in Seville, Granada and Cadiz. The last of them was set up in El Bosque, in the province of Cádiz, at the end of May. It was born from a need of the General Direction of Childhood and Families of the Board to address the needs of minors who arrived in Spain during the year 2017 and were still being cared for in Immediate Care centers. There are 13 people who work here, among them psychologists, social workers, educators, teachers, and edudational technical assistants.

“The key objective of the Basic Residential Care centers is to insert these children into society. Our role is one of social and professional guidance that starts with the task of documenting the minors, placing them in educational centers or in different courses and working with them towards their future emancipation,” indicates Nicolas Torres, director of SAMU minors.

All these resources add up to two more instruments in Motril (Granada), a Center of Social/ Professional Orientation, opened in 2013, and a floor for children who have been under the guardianship of SAMU and who have already reached legal age.