Puerto Vallarta, Mexico



March 23, 2005, Celia Diaz, Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee (BEMCC), Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Emergency Evacuation Report:

On March 2, 2005, at 12:20 p.m., I received a call from the U.S. Shore Patrol in San Diego, requesting that I assist with the medical evacuation of a serviceman who was injured in Puerto Vallarta. They gave me the name of Mr. Kent Fleishman, father of the injured soldier. Mr. Fleishman said that he was desperate, not knowing what to do. His son, Christian Fleishman, 25 years old, had been critically injured in a car accident in Puerto Vallarta.

Kent Fleishman told me: "My son Christian is in the U.S. Army. He was in Iraq for a year. He was transferred to Korea for another year, and he was given a 30 day leave. I received a call from Amerimed Hospital informing me that my son is in critical condition. I want to transport him to a trauma Center in the United States but they would not let me do it. Please help me. I already paid $5,000 dollars and they want more money. I don't have anymore money."

After this call, I called Amerimed Hospital in Puerto Vallarta. The doctor said Christian Fleishman was too critical to be moved and needed more surgery. I took the medical information and called a U.S. air ambulance to go and pick him up. The American air ambulance said they spoke with the doctors and were told, no, they could not do this transport.

I called back Amerimed Hospital and told them that I would have a U.S. air ambulance with a trauma team, a doctor, and a nurse on board and they patient will be moved.

After I said that, the Amerimed doctor called me back to say the patient was better.

Since the private U.S. air ambulance refused to go, I then called the U.S. Coast Guard, and I gave them the information and the need for the patient to be evacuated immediately from Mexico. They said they did not have doctors available to go, I told them I would provide the doctor, just tell me where you can pick him up, San Diego?

They called me back and put me through to a Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Air Force. I explained the situation and told him that I needed to have this soldier transported to a San Diego Trauma Center. I told him the private U.S. air ambulance refused to do the transport. I also told him I had spoken with the San Diego Naval Hospital and a doctor by the name of Lt. Commander Klein, who was going to help me find a doctor to accompany the U.S. Air Force to pick up the patient.

After several conference calls from Mexico and the U.S., the U.S. Air Force and a general from the U.S. Air Force, I was told that they will be sending a DC-10 with a doctor and medical team on board. They said have the patient ready for us at 1 p.m. tomorrow March 3, 2005, at the Puerto Vallarta airport.

I notified the parents and they rejoiced.

Another problem came up. Mr. Fleishman said the hospital was asking for another $15,000 dollars, or they would not let the patient go. I asked the father who had been responsible for the accident. He said his insurance adjustor did not answer the phone.

I obtained the telephone number of the insurance adjustor at Seguros Tepeyac, he did not answer. I then called the Mexico City main office of Seguros Tepeyac to let them know that their adjustor would not respond and the patient was going to be discharged in the next four hours.

I told them that if they did not respond, I would have the U.S. press know that Seguros Tepeyac would not respond to accept responsibility. I also called an attorney, an expert on Mexican insurance fraud, and he also called them. Seguros Tepeyac responded within 30 minutes and sent a representative to pay the rest of the money.

Amerimed did not want to release the patient. They wanted still more money. I then called the American Consulate to let them know that we had a potential hostage situation at Amerimed Hospital. The U.S. Consulate representative said they could not help. I told them I would then call the police and U.S. and Mexican press to let them know what was going on. After this threat, Amerimed Hospital allowed the patient to be released.

I then arranged for a Mexican ambulance to deliver the patient to the Puerto Vallarta Airport at 1:30 p.m. on March 3, 2005.

The patient was transported by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Center in Virginia.

I just received a thank you letter from the father.

(Editor's Note: The nonprofit BEMCC provides emergency medical evacuation assistance from Mexico to its members for a tax-deductible $30 annual membership fee. Members may call their emergency number collect 7/24. Contact: 619-425-5080.)

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