Miguel is a volunteer firefighter in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He began his career with nothing but desire to provide lifesaving opportunities in his community. When he arrived at the first fire he was assigned to, he had nothing but the clothes he was wearing – a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a pair of flip flops. Miguel’s story plays out in developing countries all around the world.
Safety gear is not readily available and is cost prohibitive for struggling fire departments; especially the rural departments that are typically staffed with a volunteer crew. In addition to fighting fires, crews routinely provide pre-hospital medical care similar to paramedics and emergency medical technicians in the United States. Often these crews raise funds “fill the boot” style out on the street so they can buy bandaging and other basic medical supplies necessary when emergency medical treatment is required. In many remote areas of these under-developed countries, eighty percent of the calls firefighters respond to are for complications of childbirth. Training, equipment and supplies are literally the difference between life and death in many cases.
Poverty in a developing country often has wide income disparities. Violent crime is a serious concern due to endemic poverty, an abundance of weapons, a legacy of societal violence, and weak law enforcement and judicial systems. Providing safety equipment and training to first responders is critical in keeping them safe and able to respond to fire and medical emergencies. The primitive infrastructure in these areas makes them extremely vulnerable to devastating results in the event of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes. Training of first responders and access to functional equipment is key to saving lives and rebuilding communities.
The mission of the BRAVE Foundation is to provide the luxury of technical training and functional equipment for first responders around the globe.