By Gene Kira, December 22, 2003, as published in Western Outdoor News:
It's the end of the year again. Here comes the phone number: 619-425-5080.
This is, of course, the number for Celia Diaz' nonprofit medical evacuation agency, Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee (BEMCC), in Chula Vista, CA. Once again, I'm recommending very strongly that everybody who travels in Baja should call this lady's office right now, join her association for $30, and quite possibly save your life someday.
The nonprofit BEMCC, established in 1976, specializes in emergency air or ambulance evacuations for Americans who are sick or injured anywhere in Mexico. For thirty bucks, you are allowed to call--collect--from anywhere in Mexico with a medical emergency.
Once you call, BEMCC takes over, mobilizes government agencies on both sides of the border if necessary, and will endeavor to get you the heck out of there immediately, despite any possible paperwork hangups, or medical clinics that might be trying to make you pay huge amounts of cash before they will release you.
In the past 27 years, BEMCC has evacuated an amazing 12,000+ Americans from fishing or other vacation areas of Mexico, usually using their own U.S. health insurance policies to cover the clinic charges and/or air evac fees, but not always. In 27 years, BEMCC has not failed to get results, although in some cases they have had to evacuate bodies.
Their phone number is staffed 24/7 (go ahead, try it now). They will translate on your behalf and make calls for you, until you are evacuated. For anybody who travels south, this is potentially the best $30 you could ever spend.
The $30 is also fully tax deductible.
Because of privacy considerations, I can't include the names of the following evacuees in this column, but here is some information on a few of the many evacuations performed by BEMCC just during this past month of November:
1. An American man, 42, was crushed by a tractor that ran over his pelvis near San Quintin. He was treated at the Ensenada military hospital, but could not be stabilized. A trauma ambulance was dispatched from San Diego about 8 p.m., but the man died of a massive heart attack before the paramedics could reach him and intervene.
2. A young woman fell from a second floor balcony in Tijuana. She was immediately transported across the border, but her injuries later proved to be fatal.
3. The lives of two American victims of violent crimes in separate incidents were saved when they were transported across the border with one hour of receiving calls from the local treating physicians.
4. Two other Americans were saved after suffering heart attacks in Tijuana and Ensenada. Again, the patients were transported within one hour of the calls being made to BEMCC.
5. The body of a young woman was returned to the U.S. from Cabo San Lucas after she died suddenly from diabetic shock. BEMCC assisted her relatives with the complicated paperwork necessary to bring her body home.
6. Two injured U.S. Marines were returned after being involved in a traffic accident in Ensenada. One of the Marines was being held as the person responsible for the accident. BEMCC negotiated his immediate release to a U.S. trauma center, after assuring Mexican authorities that he was covered by his Mexican insurance policy.
7. Other Americans were returned from Ensenada, Rosarito, Cabo San Lucas, and La Paz, after suffering such things as kidney failure, fractures, and food poisoning.
Okay, it goes on and on, amigos, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for the past 27 years, all on a volunteer basis by Celia Diaz and her mission of mercy.
This phone number is important. Do not email me later because you lost it. If you do, I will charge you fifty bucks extra to give you the number, and I will donate the money to BEMCC. Here it is again: 619-425-5080. Call right now. It could save your life.
(Related Mexico articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Mexico information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Mexico area in "Mexico Fishing News.")