Comox paramedic offering helping hand in Mexico

Ryan Thorbun aims to help Puerto Vallarta firefighters with ambulance, equipment

Comox paramedic Ryan Thorburn

Ryan Thorburn made a lasting impression on a group of firefighters a year ago, so much so that the Comox paramedic is giving them an ambulance.

Thorburn, who was a member of the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams who volunteered in Haiti following their catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake, is returning to Mexico following his inaugural trip last year when he donated an ambulance full of medical equipment to the village of El Tuito.

The village is about an hour south of Puerto Vallarta, which is where he and his friend Chris Hounsell stopped prior to continuing their voyage.

“(Their fire department) showed us around, we had a few refreshments and we got the idea that they wanted this ambulance,” noted Thorburn.

The Puerto Vallarta firefighters told the pair they didn’t have a running ambulance for more than a year.

“This means that all the locals, elderly and people without a care program are not getting rides to the hospital. The ambulances you see in Puerto Vallarta are private ambulances that work for the tourist plans, Canadians, (Americans and) Europeans.”

Thorburn added those needing medical transport generally go to the hospital in the backs of cars or motorcycles.

“We want them to have an ambulance for the care we think they deserve.”

This year, Thorburn is driving down on Dec. 1 for two weeks alongside Hounsell and another friend Patrick Lewis, and they are filling their ambulance full of firefighting equipment thanks to assistance from Firefighters Crossing Borders in Seattle.

Thorburn said when he looked at the fire truck compartments last year at the station in Puerto Vallarta, he saw gloves, rags, hardhats instead of helmets, “and a lot of space.”

He has raised funds to purchase the ambulance and equipment thanks to local Rotary clubs and fire departments, but is accepting financial donations for fuel, tolls and incidentals.

Donations can be made to Thorburn directly; for more information or for e-transfers, email rydoth@gmail.com.

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