When this May 6 dawned, the graduate Annia Figueredo had plans for any day of rest, deserved by the hustle and bustle of the previous day. “It was not her work shift, she did not belong to be in the middle of the morning on an ambulance in a city full of sirens and pain. But the Saratoga hotel, in the heart of Old Havana, had collapsed as a result of a strong explosion, and whatever she thought when she opened her eyes that day, it would no longer be.
“Imagine, since I’m not going to be there with my colleagues, the situation called for giving our best,” he tells Cubadebate.
Annia has been working in the emergency for 10 years, as part of the Integrated System of Medical Emergencies (SIUM), and like several of her colleagues, the vast majority, did not think twice about going to the base and joining the first aid and transfer of victims and injured to health institutions. Now, when we talk to her, she is ready at the national emergency medical base to leave her wherever it is needed, this time fulfilling her established shift.
If you think about it, Annia has hardly slept, but now we know that it is not important.
“Honestly, this impacted me a lot and despite the fact that I have several anecdotes to tell about similar situations, this is not equal. But hey… we never got flustered, or lost focus on what was happening. United, the colleagues from the national emergency and the provincial SIUM, all the colleagues who were arriving from Health and joined, we were taking the victims to the different hospitals, ”he recalls.
“We were there until they needed us, we didn’t care about the time, we didn’t care about anything, we were always there at the front. With us, the national emergency, as with all the health personnel in this country, they can count on anything, with all the love in the world we will always respond”, says Annia, and her gaze is lost in some image of the last hours that you prefer to forget.
At his side is William Reyes Domínguez, integral paramedic of the SIUM national base. “We arrived as soon as we were summoned and from the first moment we participated in the transfer of the victims that appeared, very close to the rest of the colleagues. As soon as we left a patient, we returned to the scene again to continue moving personnel, ”he says.
William has been working in the national emergency for more than two years. May 6 must have been the day of greatest tension. Nine Trips remembers that he found on his cell phone between the vicinity of the hotel and the different health centers. “A very hard work, a gloomy scene, of desperation, but we were focused on saving human lives, helping those who needed it and we focused on the correct transfer of these patients, many of whom were badly treated by the blows, the collapse, the burst”.
“Of course, willing to stand as long as it takes,” adds the 33-year-old.
For Fernando Isel Viltres, although it is a moving and sad moment, what they had to do, he says, was to overcome “because we have to perform the rescue function and act at the right time. We were waiting for the rescuers to do their job to continue with ours, “says this paramedic.
Annia agrees with him, who insists that “it is not easy for a paramedic to arrive at a scene like this.”
“The first thing is to classify the patient, see what states they are in and what is the next step to take, because what will be done next depends on that classification,” he explains.
“We arrived at the scene, the rescuers extracting the patients, us classifying, and those who were an immediate emergency doing all the procedures on the spot and trying to help so that when they arrived at the hospital they would be in better conditions. A hydration that you put in place is a life advancement for this patient”, she insists.
“It is shocking and even if one is from the Health sector, supposedly used to dealing with emergencies, we have blood in our veins. Seeing what has happened to these people, especially the children… I can’t tell you what I felt when I arrived on the scene and saw this situation, there are no words,” he says.
Lázaro Aguilar Álvarez has been a mechanic for years at the national emergency medical base, but on May 6 he had his first experience as a paramedic. He, who is in charge of maintaining the mobile teams with greater vitality, this time also fought for life by putting his hands to transport the injured.
“What I saw in the place was shocking, in the name of the national SIUM we offer our condolences to the relatives and friends of the deceased. We will not rest as long as we are needed there,” he commented.
Until 10 at night, Osmel Góngora, an integral paramedic with more than 8 years of experience working tirelessly, was there to return to his shift later. “It is a painful scene, in the midst of which the joint work that was done was comforting. The regional base, center, west, we were one, ”says this Guantanamo man who insists on how he was moved, in addition, by the number of people who came to offer to donate blood.
Tania Torres Peña, director of the SIUM national base, speaks proudly of all of them. “Our response was immediate. It took us three minutes to get to the place. The ambulances that were in our base at that minute of demand were around three, then the ambulances that were in full swing moving patients between hospitals gradually joined the scene, ”he explains.
“We are a regionalized base in Central Havana, dedicated to tertiary care, that is, to the evacuation of patients from the institutes, but yesterday morning, when the event occurred in Old Havana, we initially received a call from our coordinating center, and later the coordinator activated us”, he adds.
“We arrived at the scene, which was quite gloomy and bleak, we had not found a scene similar to this. We took all the precautions, we stayed a few meters away because we did not know what the situation was and if there could be another explosion, because it was in unison that all the rescuers, firefighters were arriving, and until the scene was safe we could not enter. to the place, to expose our colleagues and for more victims to join”, details the interviewee.
In a few minutes, he says, the provincial SIUM joined. “We were a single team from that moment, with a single voice of command in charge of Mr. Gerardo, who is the director of the provincial SIUM. We were classifying and transferring them to the hospitals and later, when the first victims began to be extracted alive, we evacuated them to the different hospitals that we had already coordinated: Calixto García, Freire de Andrade, Miguel Enríquez, the 26 Clinic and the Manuel Hospital. Farjardo. Also the pediatric hospital of Centro Habana and the Juan Manuel Márquez hospital for pediatric patients”, he points out.
“I want to highlight the attitude of all our workers who were resting in their homes and who were joining the emergency there. It was something spontaneous. And also health personnel from Centro Habana and Old Havana. Even medical students were there, who teamed up with us. Also, the paramedics and ambulances from the Cira García clinic and the Frank País Hospital arrived at the scene, and with our volunteers who were not on duty, we formed teams,” says Tania.
Teams that 48 hours later are still ready to activate the sirens, with faith in hope.