La Ambulancia

Today we transported a patient to a hospital in Quito.

It’s about a 40 minute drive from mountain terrain to crowded streets.


We were going about our regular routine in la emergencia in my small clinic when a woman came in presenting with chest pain.  I may not have understood her Spanish, but I knew enough from my experience in the States to know that she was suffering from a myocardial infarction.  She was sweating and clutching her chest…  She was in bad shape.

We radioed in an ambulance from somewhere in town. 

And by ambulance I mean a van with sirens.

Our ambulance in the city hospital
There was hardly an equipment in the back of the rig

We loaded Rosa in the back and were on our way with nothing but an empty oxygen tank and a BP cuff.  Most of my patient care involved keeping Rosa from flying off the cot during the sharp turns.  If you’ve ever driven in Quito, you’d know how crazy the cars on the road can be.  It was a bumpy ride and scarier than a taxi in downtown Chicago.

As we were pulling out, a woman on the street flagged us down.  She jumped in and got a free ride to Quito.  I think she was the driver’s girlfriend, but still…  Only in Ecuador does an ambulance double as a taxi.

Halfway to the hospital Rosa coded on me, and I thought we’d lost her.  All I could think about is how she would make it if she were in the States.  But she came back quickly and was stable the rest of the way.  I felt terrible that there was nothing we could give her for pain, or that I didn’t have enough Spanish to comfort her pregnant daughter riding in the front.

We eventually got her to the city hospital, and she was talking when we left her.  I have no idea how she’s doing now, but I think she’ll be okay.

All the same, it would be neat if you could say a prayer for her and her family.  She may be worlds apart, but prayer can go a long way, and luckily we have a God that isn’t constrained to only the Western part of the world, as some would think.

Thank goodness we serve a God that is so much bigger than that!

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