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Sep 6, 2018

Healthy Living: Preventing Emergencies on Carnival Day

One of the busiest days of the year for emergency medical response teams is carnival day which is this Saturday. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we find out why and what you can do to prevent health emergencies.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

On Saturday, the streets of Belize City will be overflowing with thousands of people gathered to watch the annual Carnival road-march. The crowds assemble early to secure their preferred view. Carnival is easily one of the most anticipated events every September and it also holds the distinction of the busiest day of the year for emergency medical teams.


Leon Seguro

Leon Seguro, Fleet Manager, BERT

On carnival day, pretty much from the carnival get started till the end of the day the calls pretty much never stop.”


Leon Seguro is currently the Fleet manager for Belize Emergency Response Team and has been an Emergency Medical Technician with the organization for the past seventeen years.


Leon Seguro

“It pretty much maxes out of service every year. There are so much going on and at the same time it is so hard to get to and from the hospital or the patient.  All staff all hands on deck.”


Marleni Cuellar

“How many ambulances do we have to move around the city?”


Leon Seguro

“For carnival day we will have five ambulances.”


Marleni Cuellar

“And some will be in the carnival?”


Leon Seguro

“We’ll have two in the carnival itself, one crew that is working, one on call and a third just in case.”


If you think of what a typical carnival day or weekend includes, it begins explain why all the medical emergencies. There is sleep deprivation from partying all night and early morning Jouvet, there’s dehydration from what is usually an intensely hot day, very little water consumed and a whole lot of alcohol. If you’re in the carnival itself, there’s also physical exertion that ER Physician at K.H.M.H., Doctor Rigo Montejo likens to running a marathon.


Rigo Montejo

Dr. Rigo Montejo, Emergency Room Physician, K.H.M.H.

“It’s no different from other days. You still get your walk in you still get your fever you still get your headache your back pain you still get a lot of people trying to come in to get a doctor day to not have to go to work but in addition to that of course you have people who are actually  participating in the carnival. It’s like a marathon you’re going to run. So you need to prepare your body for this marathon and some people don’t! Some people even have excessive alcoholic beverages the night before then on that day the body will already be in a state of dehydration and you’re going to push it to the max. We don’t normally see it in the afternoon during the carnival. We usually see it in the nighttime after the carnival has concluded when there are all the after parties and the concerts. That is when the actual concentration of alcohol and not sleeping and the dehydration everything just unites and a lot of times what we get especially young people between ages fifteen to like thirty would come in here not responding. People are really scared and some of them their glucose level there sugar level is actually low but a lot of time it is just imbrications – they consume more alcohol than their body can actually manage or digest.”


K.H.M.H. also increases staff to cover the spike in emergencies. For BERT though, it’s not only that it’s busy on Carnival day but that it is the most challenging day to move around the city.


Leon Seguro

“The city gets cut off and we don’t have the routes to – there’s no real defined routes and most importantly we don’t have the respect of the people for the ambulances. People just don’t move out of the way. They prefer to stand there and watch the carnival rather than stepping aside for just a few seconds so the ambulance can pass and reach the hospital or the patient. One of the times that stand out was one of the pregnancy cases.   It was hard to get to and when we finally get to her it was about a forty-five-minute drive to the hospital and that somewhere in Faber’s Road to the hospital.”


Seguro estimates that what would normally be a five to ten minute transport in the city on any other afternoon will take about forty to fifty minutes on the afternoon of carnival. This is why he pleas for people to always give way to ambulances.


Leon Seguro

“There are different calls that the ambulance may not use the lights or the sirens because of the medical situation. It does not mean that it is any less of an emergency.  We have people who are having a heart attack. They need to be in a calm environment. If we are blazing down the road with lights and sirens it’s not going to help the situation but it doesn’t mean they don’t need to get to the hospital as soon as possible.”


As for taking care of your body: Dr Montejo offers this advice.


Dr. Rigo Montejo

“Keep hydrated and its mot only water. Its water and electrolytes. Make sure you consume adequate calories for the day for the type of activity you’ll be doing for the day. Make sure you’re prepared now this should have been going on for the last weeks or last months. People should be preparing for the carnival but… Make sure you prepare physically and mentally or the stress your body is going to undergo and get some rest. If you want to wake up at 3am for the J’ouvert then get some rest at least eight hours rest.”

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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