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Ambulance services experts meet to improve emergency care

23-05-2013 News Release 13/97

Geneva/Mexico City (ICRC) – International experts came together at an international meeting, held from 21 to 23 May in the Mexican city of Toluca, to discuss ambulance and pre-hospital services in risk situations.

During the event, the experts pooled their experiences with a view to improving the delivery of safe emergency medical services.  They addressed the challenges they face on a daily basis in their work, made specific recommendations and proposed practical measures to try to understand and overcome those challenges.

"People who are sick or wounded often die from conditions that would not have been fatal, had they received medical assistance in time. Everyone is entitled to such assistance," said Karl Mattli, head of the regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for Mexico, Central America and Cuba. "The medical community alone cannot guarantee safe delivery of health care. This responsibility lies in the hands of governments, influential groups and other members of civil society.”

The meeting was jointly organized by the Mexican Red Cross and the ICRC, and was attended by 45 people, including representatives of 19 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Spain). Ambulance-service providers from both the public and private sectors also took part.

The participants concluded that further action was needed to ensure that the wounded and the sick were not denied access to medical assistance, and that health-care facilities and teams had adequate supplies, medicines, equipment and staff. Their recommendations will be published in an ICRC report to be presented at the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in December 2015. There will also be a push for health-care providers worldwide to implement the steps outlined in the report.

The meeting was one of a series of consultations taking place between experts and the ICRC and National Societies as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s Health Care in Danger campaign, led by the ICRC. ICRC representatives took the floor to present the campaign’s achievements and the findings contained in Violent Incidents Affecting Health Care. This report pointed out that in 2012 there were at least 921 direct attacks on health-care personnel and facilities, as well as on wounded or sick patients.

For further information, please contact:
Gabriel Salazar, ICRC Mexico, tel: +52 55 25 81 21 10 or +52 45 10 20 18
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10