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Training helps fight illness in Mexico, U.S.

April 20, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — Though the political border between the United States and Mexico may be clear, disease and injury don't recognize boundaries.

Members of the emergency health-care community from both the Mexicali and Imperial valleys gathered Friday at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort near here to participate in a Binational Pre-Hospital Pediatric and Trauma Training.

Organized by the University of California, San Diego, Cross-Border Healthcare Education and Leadership Network in collaboration with Imperial County Public Health Department, the one-day seminar was aimed at emergency medical care-givers such as paramedics who treat patients before they can reach a hospital.

"The opportunity to have representatives from so many agencies come together to learn is good," said John Pritting, manager of emergency medical services for Imperial County Public Health Services.

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"Because we're on the border of two different countries, the challenge is to develop cooperative issues between the two," said Elizabeth Santillanez Robson, program manager of the UCSD Cross Border Healthcare Education and Leadership Network.

One such issue is emergency medical care.

It's important for Imperial and Mexicali Valley pre-hospital providers to work together because the patients being treated could be from either side of the border, Robson said.

Though healthcare is different in Mexicali and the Imperial Valley, the two share some things.

Neither Mexicali nor the Imperial Valley has the resources to establish trauma centers, Pritting said.

"We're looking at more creative ways to care for those patients (in need of trauma care)," Pritting said.

Because many Americans travel to the Mexicali area for business and pleasure, and vice versa, it's important that the two sides work together in providing emergency health care for each other's citizens, said Bill DuBois, battalion chief with the El Centro Fire Department.

"The border is not as concrete a line in health care matters (as it used to be)," said DuBois, a seminar participant.

Fellow participant Raymundo Noriega Cota agreed communication between the two countries is beneficial.

Cota, who works with firefighters in Mexicali, came "to try to improve the quality and resources to give better response to medical emergencies," he said.

Cota aims to provide the same kind of treatment as is given in the Imperial Valley and to let U.S. citizens know Mexicali offers good treatment in its hospitals, he said.

Besides learning more about pediatric and trauma treatment, the seminar fostered binational relations.

"Beyond the mere clinical, the chance to meet and greet face to face with colleagues south of the border is (terrific)," DuBois said.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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