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May 25, 2017

Healthy Living: Could You Be Like EMT Javier Canul?

For the first time, Belize is commemorating World E.M.S. Day. Emergency Medical Services is an integral part of health care continuum. We may never think of how important it is to have professional emergency medical technicians available until we or our loved ones require emergency care. In honor of E.M.S. week, Healthy Living features one of Belize’s most well-known E.M.T., Javier Canul, to find out what keeps him motivated to this profession for almost two decades.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Javier Canul is known by many Belizeans as the cheerful character, Oozy the Clown but Canul’s time as Ozzy is only a part-time passion he actually spends most of his days for the past 18 years not as an entertainer but as a life saver.


Javier Canul

Javier Canul, Veteran Emergency Medical Technician.

“One day a call came in from a good friend of mine, Dr John Arana. He’s a doctor now. He was the only EMT/Paramedic at the time only EMT paramedic in the country and he asked me if I wanted to do a course on the EMT and I said sure why not.”


Canul is an emergency medical technician with paramedic training and the current training coordinator for Belize Emergency Response Team BERT. Originally he had aspirations of being a doctor but eventually found his passion in emergency medical services.


Javier Canul

“EMT is a profession and the profession come with a lot of hard work and dedication in terms of studying. In terms of practicing and we have to remember that were dealing with people lives. The things about us loading people in an ambulance and running with them; that’s a thing of the past. Were now a professional organization of professionals who work for one common cause and doing what we call pre-hospital care and that pre hospital care is like us being the doctors in the field to get the patient alive to the hospital and so the doctors can continue with the treatment that is what it’s all about. Being an EMT, eighteen years ago to now we have made great strides. I can remember being an EMT basic and I have been climbing up the ladder and we had every level have different scope and we practice only at an EMT B level but as time goes by and we got other assistance from the U.S. People came in and started to helping us, through the Wagner foundation – they were a big factor behind us at looking at what BERT needs and how they could help us to step up and meet international standards. Eighteen years ago that was just baseline. Today we have made great strides in several things: Public awareness and education. At that time there were probably in the entire country about thirty to fifty EMTs now I would roughly say we have roughly about 500 EMTs from a  broad spectrum of life. It is not a job for me, I say it with a passion. It is actually something that I love to do.  if anyone else would want to be an EMT or if you want a job – just a job – this is not the job for you. If you want to help people and help people for years to come. Then this is where you want to be because this is not a job this is working and helping people.”


Emergency medical service (or EMS) is a service providing out-of-hospital acute care and transport to definitive care. EMTs in Belize are licensed to provide this type of service. They receive refresher training at least once a year. They’re also trained in defensive driving to weave through traffic to respond to emergencies.


Javier Canul

“People see the vehicle with the lights and normally if the road is clear lights stay on; if we have traffic getting in the way, sirens go on. If it’s a really critically emergency then the lights, siren and everything else is on. We’re going to the hospital. People think that we use these things to have our own way and it is not so.  We might be going to your home. You’re in the way in from of us giving us a hard time and we’re rushing to get to your house. So you need to be alert you need to pay attention.”


Of course interacting with people in a high stress moment requires softer skills as well.


Javier Canul

“You have to have a heart and share empathy. You have be empathetic. You have to be emotional in the sense that I’m emotional I want to help you. I want you to live. Not emotional in the sense that you break down in front of the patient and (fake cry) I can’t help you. You need to be aggressive. Aggressive takes you a long way and you need to make sure you keep yourself updated. You need to study. Studying and learn the good habits and not the bad habits.  I can recall a shooting where one of my colleagues was running with a a baby bleeding out. They wanted to kill dad but instead they got the baby and she run with that baby into the ambulance and emotionally it gets to us. For these things we go to a scene we see brains on the ground. We see intestines drawn out for miles on the road. It’s very stressful. How we would deal with that; we would come back and talk to our colleagues about it and the administration would create a counseling session and if somebody needs counseling we can request it and they would provide it. That’s part of the stress that we go through.”


Canul advises that to cut down on response time, contact emergency services directly like BERT’s landline at 223-3292 as often time there is a delay between third party calls to police or 911 dispatchers.

Javier Canul

“Why do you keep doing it eighteen years later? I love it. I really love what I do. I love helping people. I love teaching people. I love meeting people. I love to associate with people. More than anything else, it’s just a passion that keeps me going to help people.”


Currently as a part of E.M.S. week, E.M.T.s are receiving various refresher training with a guest trainer from Missouri Southern State University.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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