El Sistema No Es Bueno, Nos Dice

Thursday, March 21, 2013

“No es bueno,” Amaury Julio, National Coordinator of the Grupo Colombiano de Emergencias (GCE), said frankly about Colombia’s EMS system, during an informational interview with A Tu Lado on March 20. That said, Colombia’s prehospital services incorporate several models that could be beneficial to Bolivia and Venezuela. And that’s exactly why we’re here.

Members of A Tu Lado’s team met with GCE to help build an understanding of how prehospital care works here: what educational standards are in place, how licensing works, who is permitted to provide care, etc.

“Anyone in the world can get sick, except a doctor. And anyone can get in trouble except a politician,” Amaury went on, explaining that the public eye focused on the need for qualified EMS care when a Colombian senator suffered a traumatic accident and died in the street, with bystanders unable to help. Since then, Colombia started requiring ambulances to hire professionals with baseline skills, and to differentiate between advanced ambulances and basic ambulances. On national and municipal levels, politicians and prehospital care providers began to collaborate. Then in 2000, Bogotá’s mayor passed a resolution requiring all ambulances to staff technicians of prehospital services or nurses with special training in prehospital care. It’s not a perfect system, Amaury is quick to point out, but it’s functional.

How does this relate to A Tu Lado? We are always looking to improve how we invest our resources, and Colombia’s story sheds valuable light on the best paths forward. Institutions like GCE and medical schools across the country provide standardized EMS education, but the title “paramedic” is nonexistent. Instead, there are emergency technicians, nurses with prehospital training, and MD’s with advanced training in emergency medicine and trauma, all of whom play the role of “paramedic” in the field. Considering A Tu Lado’s impact on students with previous medical training (such as Mario), learning about Colombia’s process in improving the EMS field gives us valuable food for thought, and will help us ensure A Tu Lado’s educational programs maximize their value.

Over the next week, we will continue to meet with and learn from other EMS educators and professionals. Tomorrow, we travel northwest to Medellín to visit the EMS program of Universidad CES.

A Tu Lado's Emily Berger and Terence Steinberg with Leaders of the Grupo Colombiano de Emergencias; Bogota, Colombia, March 2013

A Tu Lado’s Emily Berger and Terence Steinberg with Leaders of the Grupo Colombiano de Emergencias; Bogota, Colombia, March 2013