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Red Cross Paramedics On Patrol In Juarez

Medics roll up on the scene of a traffic accident.

They tend to the victim, asking questions to determine what injuries there might be. They wipe the blood off the victim?s face and write up a report stating there were no major injuries.

Suddenly, a call goes out over the radio that has become the norm in Juarez: A triple shooting has just occurred.

The Juarez Red Cross paramedics race from the car accident to the shooting crime scene.

Jaime Varela, a Red Cross volunteer from El Paso, said he treats gunshot victims all the time, but he fears he?ll become a victim himself, someday.

Varela said that fear comes from being one of the unprotected-first-responders.

If a person isn?t afraid, ?They?re lying,? said Victor Mendosa, a Juarez city paramedic who also volunteers with the Red Cross.

He struggles with the haunting images from gruesome crime scenes that are now a part of daily life in Juarez that has resulted in 1,600 deaths so far this year. The scenes that replay in his head include the car bomb that killed three people just a few weeks ago.

Mendosa said three colleagues were hurt by the car bomb.

?It could have been me,? he said.

Back at the scene of the triple-shooting, dusk gathers as the victims? families arrive.

Nowadays, these medics see more killings than car wrecks. But Varela said in his 13 years as a volunteer in Juarez, one thing has not changed.

?I have a passion to help the helpless,? Varela said.

And now more than ever, the Juarez Red Cross needs volunteers like Varela.

A financial crisis forced the agency to lay off 15 paramedics this month. Fewer rescuers and fewer resources at a time when victims of the escalating violence need them most.

Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz is now appealing to Mexico?s federal government on behalf of the Red Cross. He is asking that the agency be considered part of the country?s public security system which would allow the nonprofit to be eligible for federal funding.

Related Links:Link:Mexico Red Cross WebsiteLink:ABC-7 Special Reports

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