"It's my area, it's my people"
Photo: Alejandro Azcuy Dominguez

There were several forces that came together to go to the scene of the incident that occurred last Friday. For many rescuers or people involved in the recovery effort this could be one of the most difficult in their lives. Some relate it from the sense of responsibility; others, sensitized by the sadness that overwhelms us.

For Alejandro González Martínez, a paramedic from the East Havana SIUM, mobilized at the time of the accident, it was unfortunate and painful: “People covered in blood, screaming, and many other people running. I immediately had to transfer two patients: an adult to the Calixto García hospital, with head injuries, and a girl to the Juan Manuel Márquez pediatric hospital, with rib injuries.

Eliecer Fonseca, First Lieutenant of Salvage and Rescue, lived something similar, who was at the scene from the first call, to quickly remove the injured personnel who had been located, which was done, despite the danger, due to the magnitude of the collapse. .

The Red Cross was also immediately present with many young people, as is the case of Karla Álvarez Armas, a member of the Operations and Relief Group of Old Havana and the Youth Red Cross: «I realized that something was happening. I was working on Calzada de Carlos III when I saw two ambulances pass by and the first fire engine. I immediately started calling my operators, and the head of the municipal Red Cross told me what had happened. The moment we realize something, we must activate ourselves, especially when the event is in our municipality ».

The functions of the Red Cross are various and its role is essential at times like this: psychological support to the families of the deceased or injured, seeking answers from people who were in the area and have not been contacted, supporting rescue and rescue to move bodies and injured people.

“When I’m activated by the provincial group, I look at the photos and say, ‘Wow, that’s impressive!’ I took a machine, all my equipment, and got here, but seeing it in a photo is not the same as seeing it live; the magnitude of the rubble, of the victims with whom we are working, strikes,” says the secretary of the Red Cross Youth, of Plaza de la Revolución, Miguel Ángel Llorente Sosa, who is also a member of the Provincial Operations and Relief Group of La Havana.

“I am a doctor. I have worked in emergency departments, but nothing as traumatic as this. What impresses the most are the victims and the help of the people who, knowing or not how to operate, always show their support. People who are not rescuers were the first to help the victims,” ​​he said.

Other forces that worked non-stop were those of the Construction Business Group of the Local Administration. From the very afternoon of May 6, its director, Namán Morales, was seen offering guidance on the ground so that the rubble could be removed as quickly and carefully as possible, given that victims lay beneath them. In addition, they made an assessment of the effects on the multi-family building next to the Saratoga hotel, the second facility that received the most damage: «The building has 30 homes, of which there are at least 15 affected. The families are already in a safe place, and a rehabilitation project will be carried out soon », he assured Granma.

“Very terrible, very sad and very painful for our country, for our Havana, which is becoming more beautiful,” says Sandra Martínez Castañeda, a member of the Federation of Cuban Women, who went to the place to support. She also belongs to the church near the Saratoga hotel, which was also damaged.

“Cubans are people to help, they are always there,” says Karla Álvarez, while some 20 red uniforms stand around her, late at night, waiting for a call to act. It will be impossible to forget these days of anguish and hard work, when all of Cuba suffers, as if a country could settle on a piece of land, in sacrifice, in hope: “This is my municipality. This is my zone. These are my people.”

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