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Vital Signs

DHMC group pursues high-minded extramedical project

Agroup of intrepid climbers, most of them associated with DHMC, spent two weeks last fall in the Sierra Madre—a mountain range east of Mexico City—scaling two of the highest peaks in the Americas. The trek was more than an adventurevacation, however; it was also a fund-raising venture. The group had been working for months to raise money to buy an ambulance for the local Red Cross medical service. While they were in Mexico, the climbers visited some of the Sierra Madreans who will benefit from their gift.

What kindled the idea, says John Markowitz, an operations assistant in DHMC's Emergency Department, was an encounter he had on a previous climb with a local physician, Dr. Geraldo Reyes Carlin. Carlin is the director of the regional Red Cross but told Markowitz that "they give me no ambulance, personnel, or money." Most rural health care in Mexico, Markowitz says, is provided by the Red Cross.

So Markowitz recruited 16 climbers who paid for their own trips plus $250 each


Top, some of the climbers at the summit of Mount Orizaba (Markowitz is in the center rear). Bottom, the Mexican ambulance-to-be.


toward the ambulance and its refurbishment. Participants included DHMC staff; employees of McCarthy Construction, the general contractor for DHMC's Project for Progress expansion; and a few others.

The ambulance—which looks exactly like a child's drawing of a truck: a box on wheels—is a sturdy 1960 Mercedes Unimog that the group located in Arizona. "A regular ambulance wouldn't have been half the fun," Markowitz says. In the best tradition of both New England and old Mexico, many of its fittings are recycled. For example, the group wangled a used stretcher from the Enfield, N.H., emergency medical service (EMS). "We shipped it out to Arizona," says Markowitz, "and the Ferno Company, which was doing the refurbishment, installed it for free." The ambulance was also fitted with lights, a defibrillator, backboards, and "as much EMS equipment as we could gather. . . . We'll continue to raise money" for the region, Markowitz adds. For the people of the Sierra Madre, that's buenas noticias—good news.


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