Monday, April 8, 2013

Emergency Services in Belize- Pictures and my very limited knowledge....

I have been meaning to blog about the Emergency Services here in Belize. Having been a 911 Dispatcher in a former life in the States, I have some readers who will be interested in Disaster Recovery and the like.

In Belize, when you have an emergency, you would dial either 911 or possibly 90. That will connect you to a human being. Depending on the nature of your emergency and also on your location, this person may or may not be able to help you.

In the cities, like Dangria where I'm living, there is usually a Fire Department. The fire department is very poorly funded, and relies on volunteers. Fire departments can have more than one truck. The quality of the fire truck greatly varies. Some are donations from US fire companies who have retired a truck, others are beat up old pick-ups with a pump knocking around in the bed. Air trucks, tanker trucks, brush trucks, and any specialty equipment that firefighters in the States use, are pretty much unheard of in these parts. A lot of the houses and buildings are planks, worn, weathered, dry like matchsticks. It would stand to reason that a fire could get out of hand quickly. That does not however, appear to be the case. I am living just a stone's throw from the Fire Station and have heard the alarm sound twice. It starts like a school or church bell, and as the men respond, someone starts up the siren on the truck to use as a Blaring LOUD Fire Whistle...Seems effective. BOTH times I heard the fire bell one was hurt in the said fire, and no HUGE loss of property. The people have spent enough time fighting local fires that they KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING! Just as in the states...stand back and thank whatever God you believe in that there are men willing to risk their lives to save yours. There is not much in the way of  fire hydrants. If the pressure is anything like my shower, they will not be very effective. Mostly, the fire department pumps water from one of the many inlets, streams, or rivers. I have also read about local firefighters who have traveled to the US, Canada and even Japan to learn new fire fighting techniques. So...although funding is poor and service is centralized around the cities, I would give the Fire Departments of Belize a passing grade.

Just to put it out there...I'm sure donations would be accepted. If any US Fire Company is looking to unload some old respirators, or protective gear, or even an engine...There would be hoops to jump through on this end, and I would be willing to jump through them to assist.

Police response is also more centralized. Of course, you can report a crime anywhere in the country. But I heard a story from a lady who said she had to drive into town and pick up the police man and run him out to her place and let him investigate her burglary and then run him back to the station. Needless to say, her items were never recovered. The police force is overworked and understaffed. I have avoided Belize City like a plague, but they say the police presence there is strong. That's reasonable, as it has the reputation for the most violent crime in the country. I am also to believe that Belize police people are honest. Most will not accept bribes, unlike other Central American countries. I have not had any interaction with the police other than a friendly "Hello!" on the street. I am less than 100 yards from the Dangria Police Station. I like that. Very much. Very Much Indeed.

Ambulance service is provided by a non-profit They have something like 7 ambulances and several airplanes available for transporting patients. If you are rural, you would head out on your own steam as EMA could take hours to get to you. Here in the city, I have seen several doctor's offices and Red Cross centers. Most are tiny, one room bandage stations, but it is good to know that they are there. I took a picture of one of them...this one has dental services.

 All in all, Emergency Services are not what we would have in the states, but are acceptable for Belize!

1 comment:

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