Local Emergency Services

(Content provided by Chris Bradley – Updated Jan 2019. Please email the View with feedback, corrections, etc)

Emergency Medical Services in La Ventana & El Sargento

The ambulance service in LV-ES is run entirely by unpaid volunteers – All equipment, supplies, maintenance and running costs are provided through contributions from users and well-wishers. Some local ambulances (like Los Planes and San Antonio) have paid staff and a budget provided by their Delegacion. Our ambulance does not, receiving only a small contribution towards fuel. There is no pay or honorarium for the volunteers, who have to pay for their own training and uniforms, use their personal cellphones for call-outs, and sometimes even have to buy the gas themselves.

For the last 8 years our service has been run by our amazing Lupita Cosio Barrera, on-call without pay 24/7! Mostly she has had to work alone because it is hard to recruit, train and retain other volunteers when there is no recompense at all for their time and the stress of being permanently on-call.

Despite these obstacles, Lupita has steadily improved her professional qualifications and skills and remains totally dedicated to serving this community. But for her to continue, our help is vital, particularly in ensuring that she and other volunteers receive some financial recognition of their essential role. The Ambulance Support Group’s role is to liaise with the community of foreign visitors and residents for their continued assistance, and with the local authorities to provide a proper salary for Lupita, an assistant, and a budget for the service.

If you use the ambulance, you will be asked to:

  1. Contribute to the overall costs of running the service: 2,000 pesos
    for transportation to La Paz or 500 pesos for treatment on the spot.
  2. Reimburse the costs of items used: e.g. oxygen, bandages, splints, medications, blankets etc. A list of these costs is available from the ambulance.
  3. Donate – Make a generous donation to the volunteers, without whom the service would not exist.

Please make your payments to Lupita at the time of call-out if possible. If you need to pay later, you can reach her at 612-159-0468, or you can go through any of the following Support Group members:

  • Mary Sim, simmarybill@hotmail.com (year round)
  • Mary Twombly,  mtwombly@gorge.net
  • Thomas Munro, thomasmunrosr@gmail.com
  • chris.bradley3@gmail.com
  • Heidi Hart, harthe77@gmail.com

You will receive a receipt for the callout and reimbursed costs (but not for the donation to volunteers).

What to expect when you call the ambulance (612-159-0468)

Lupita will assess the situation and will:

  • provide treatment on the spot as far as is possible;
  • stabilize the patient so that he or she can be safely transported to hospital by a personal vehicle;
    OR
  • transport the patient to hospital by ambulance if the case is urgent and/or life-threatening.

For extreme cases, the ambulance will go straight to the Emergency Unit at the closest hospital (Salvatierra).

Hospitals in La Paz

  • 2 private hospitals: the Fidepaz (“purple hospital”) (612-124-0400 – 08) on Delfines street at the Walmart end of Abosolo, and the Centro Medico (“white hospital”) opposite it (612-124-1165).
  • The Salvatierra public hospital is cheaper but more crowded (612-175-0500). Go straight at the Soriana intersection, then 1st left on Paseo de las Deportistas and keep going.

IMPORTANT: If you go to hospital, whether by ambulance or not, bring your credit card, insurance papers, passport, cell phone and charger, prescription glasses (if needed), and details of people to be contacted. The private hospitals provide a comfy couch and bedding for a friend or family member to stay with you overnight. If admitted, you should arrange for someone to do this for you as you will find it enormously helpful.

Please note that the ambulance does not transport patients home again.