Developing Emergency Medical Response Infrastructure in Mexico

Teri West, Communications

Emergency medical response is an emerging field in Mexico, and technical universities in Mexico, Partners’ Texas chapter, and colleges in Texas are at the forefront of its development.

The first technical university in Mexico was founded almost 25 years ago, and now there are more than 130. Texas’ Alamo College district has been instrumental in helping develop the programming of these universities since they first began. When the Mexican universities recognized a need for emergency medical technicians (EMT), Texas Partners and Alamo Colleges formed a consortium with other colleges in the U.S. to gather expertise.

“Countries like Mexico and Peru, they didn’t have primary programs, so the emergency service usually was handled by firefighters,” Iliana Diaz, president of Texas Partners, said.

One of the consortium’s successes was gaining $1.5 million in emergency response equipment and medical donations for Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican city where one technical university is located. Partners also provided Douglas Stevenson, who runs the EMT program at Alvin Community College in Alvin, Texas, with a travel grant to visit three technical universities in Mexico to assess their programs.

The consortium’s most recent achievement, however, was this past June when it held its inaugural meeting in San Antonio with representatives from involved parties throughout Mexico and the U.S. The group discussed the programs and challenges that Mexico’s technological universities are experiencing relating to emergency medical service programming. The visitors also saw the facilities at the local college used for medical trainings.

“We had two and a half days of meetings that were extremely productive,” said Carol Fimmen, the executive director of Texas Partners’ Mexico program and the district director of international programs at Alamo Colleges. “There was an incredibly amount of energy.”​

For many of the representatives of the Mexican universities, this was their first time meeting each other, even though there are only 13 institutions in the country with EMT programs and those that do have them have very similar curriculums, Fimmen said.

The group is looking into the quality of EMT trainings and how equipped the faculty are to instruct their trainees. The content of the trainings must vary to account for different environmental hazards the communities face. Universities near the gulf need to train EMTs for hurricane protocol while other regions may need to train for earthquakes or mountainous climates.

“It’s not just working with the universities, with the faculty, with the curriculum but it’s also building alliances with the community, expanding those relationships that go beyond the institution to the community and the municipalities and the local governments,” Fimmen said.

Jose Luna of the Alamo College District is writing a report in English and Spanish based on the meetings that the team will send to the Mexican government and universities as well as the involved institutions and organizations in the U.S. One goal of the effort is to gain more funding for the university programs in Mexico. The consortium is also hoping to gain equipment donations as well as implement more international exchanges.

“Emergency response is just a key service that needs to be provided to communities throughout the world, and one of the most important thing in regards to this service is to have qualified trained people to be able to provide a service,” Fimmen said. “So we’re really looking at the quality of the training, the quality of the programs, [and] the quality of the faculty.”