Emergency Medical Evacuation out of Mexico
Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee (BEMCC)
24-Hour Emergency Hotline--Call Toll-Free From Anywhere in Mexico
$45 U.S. Tax-Deductible Nonprofit Membership Donation
Bilingual Spanish and English Speaking Staff
Receive Your Membership Card & Toll-Free
800 Emergency Phone Number
Click Here to Join the BEMCC Online
The Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee (BEMCC) will help get you out of Mexico as fast as possible, sometimes within hours, if you have a serious medical emergency while on vacation. As soon as your call is received, 24-hours-per-day, our bilingual, Spanish speaking, staff will immediately assist you in obtaining proper medical care while helping to arrange your safe return to medical facilities in the United States by emergency air or ground transportation.
The Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee is a U.S. nonprofit corporation supported by tax-deductible membership donations of $45 per year (renewals $40). Donors receive a membership card with an 800 telephone number that may be called toll free, 24-hours-per-day, from anywhere in Mexico. (Emergency calls are also accepted on a non-toll-free basis at the regular telephone number: 619-425-5080.)
Red tape and lack of proficiency in the Spanish language can make it nearly impossible for Americans to receive adequate medical care or emergency evacuation from Mexico. Communication and coordination of services between police, rescue workers, and American and Mexican hospitals can be poor or even nonexistent. The BEMCC has strong relationships with the proper officials, and can make the phone calls in Spanish necessary to get things moving.
Celia Diaz (seated) and her bilingual, Spanish speaking, staff have monitored the nonprofit Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee phones since 1976, bringing back more than 13,000 injured or ill Americans from Mexico.
The BEMCC uses travelers' personal health insurance policies to guarantee reimbursement of fees for ambulance, air evacuation, and hospital bills in Mexico. Travelers to Mexico should check their health insurance policies to confirm these coverages. For individuals lacking adequate insurance coverage, the BEMCC attempts to locate volunteer pilots, doctors, and other evacuation services. Guarantees of success cannot be made, but since 1976, no injured American has ever been left behind in Mexico.
The Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee was founded in 1976 by Executive Director Celia Diaz of Chula Vista, Calif., as a means of rescuing severely injured Americans traveling in Mexico and evacuating them back to the United States for emergency medical care.
Since 1976, the nonprofit Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee has repatriated more than 13,000 ill or critically injured Americans from Mexico, literally saving the lives of thousands of people who would otherwise have died.
CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE BEMCC ONLINE.
The BEMCC monitors its phones 24 hours per day, accepting emergency calls from anywhere in Mexico placed to its medical evacuation hotline.
About 80 times per month, the emergency calls arrive, typically from a desperate relative in the United States who has suddenly learned that a family member has fallen ill or been severely injured while on vacation somewhere in Mexico. Other calls come from social workers, hospitals, U.S. and Mexican consulates, military facilities, and police on both sides of the border.
For relatives who have learned of a family member in critical condition, the Spanish language barrier and the long distances involved have often turned a bad situation into a horrible nightmare. The relative knows the medical emergency is critical, that adequate emergency care is unavailable in the Mexican location, but there seems to be no way to communicate with authorities or get the injured person back to the United States in time for lifesaving medical treatment.
Celia Diaz and her bilingual BEMCC staff spring into action instantly from their offices only a few miles from the Mexican border.
Using her decades of experience as a Mexico medical insurance fraud investigator, and contacts developed in nearly 30 years of coordinating emergency medical evacuations from Mexico, Diaz quickly cuts through government and private red tape on both sides of the border. She has sometimes arranged emergency jet or helicopter evacuations within a few hours of the first call, with the help of highly-placed Mexican and U.S. officials.
Celia Diaz (second from left) of the nonprofit Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee (BEMCC) presents certificates of appreciation to members of the U.S. Coast Guard who flew a nighttime helicopter to Gonzaga Bay on the Baja California coast to evacuate a 78-year-old woman who had fallen and broken a hip.
Partial list of resources available to BEMCC for effecting lifesaving evacuations:
• U.S. and Mexico Customs, Immigration, Police, and Security Agencies.
• U.S. and Mexico Coast Guard, Army, Navy, and Air Force commanders.
• U.S. and Mexico Consulates, Chiefs of Police, Mayors, and Senators.
• U.S. and Mexico air and ground ambulance services.
• San Diego Police Department.
• California Highway Patrol.
• Insurance companies and adjustors.
• Hospitals, social workers, and emergency agencies.
With timely help from agencies such as these, the Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee has so far not failed to bring home an injured person, and its rescues have at times included such feats as having a traffic lane held open at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing at Tijuana, so an ambulance could drive straight through, getting its patient to a designated hospital in time to save his life.
CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE BEMCC ONLINE.
Some BEMCC evacuation stories from Mexico:
• An American fisherman in Ensenada, and a subscriber to Western Outdoor News who had read about BEMCC in that newspaper, was evacuated to the UCSD Trauma Center in San Diego after he was crushed between his boat and a marina dock. UCSD sent a trauma unit which was waiting for the man at the border.
• Another fisherman, 73 years old and semiconscious, was brought back from Mazatlan after his wife called to report he was in critical condition with dengue fever and kidney failure.
• A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter made a midnight flight to a remote village at Gonzaga Bay on Baja California's Sea of Cortez coast to pick up a 78-year-old woman who had broken her hip in a fall. The woman was transported by air directly to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego and was saved. Article as published in Western Outdoor News.
• An injured motorcyclist, and his motorcycle as well, were rescued by a Mexican military helicopter from a very remote location in central Baja California, determined by satellite phone and GPS coordinates. The BEMCC coordinated this evacuation through the Secretaria de Marina, Estado Mayor General, in Mexico City.
(NOTE: Although satellite phones and GPS navigation units are very valuable aids in locating injured persons in remote locations, remote pickup by helicopter is an extreme measure, not always possible to coordinate with the military services. If at all possible, injured persons should be properly moved at least to a known village for pickup by ground ambulance or conventional aircraft. Travelers are forewarned that rescue may not be possible in extremely remote locations, due to the unavailability of suitable equipment.)
• A U.S. serviceman and Iraq veteran was severely injured in a car accident while on leave in Puerto Vallarta. After conventional air ambulance evacuation could not be arranged, he was bought to Virgina for emergency medical treatment in a U.S. Air Force DC-10 that flew to Puerto Vallarta to pick him up with a medical team. The BEMCC also convinced the clinic in Puerto Vallarta to release the man when it guaranteed that his $15,000 bill would be paid. Article as published in Western Outdoor News.
• A newborn child born three months prematurely in Tijuana, was saved when it was evacuated to Children's Hospital in San Diego. The BEMCC arranged an instant visa for the child with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in order to make the cross-border transport possible.
• A man suffered a heart attack in Ensenada and was told he could not be moved. He was also suffering from pneumonia and kidney problems. The Binational Medical Care Committee sent a fully equipped ambulance that returned him to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego in time to save his life.
• A U.S. Marine was being held by Tijuana authorities as the person responsible for a traffic accident, even though he was injured and required medical care. The BEMCC convinced authorities that the man was covered by his Mexican insurance policy and negotiated his immediate release to a U.S. trauma center.
• Other medical evacuations, totaling up to 28 in a single month, were effected from Mexican locations such as San Felipe, Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco), Guaymas, Rosarito Beach, Ciudad Obregon, Hermosillo, and Cabo San Lucas. The cases involved such emergencies as traffic accidents, boating accidents, heart attacks, premature births, fractures, food poisoning, and victims of violent crime.
Partial list of commendations received by the BEMCC:
• City Council Member Juan Vargas, Eighth District, City of San Diego, special commendation in recognition of the BEMCC's efforts to ensure the health and safety of travelers and to bring the United States of America and Mexico closer together.
• Governor Pete Wilson, State of California, commendation dated Nov. 20, 1991, for assistance to thousands of stricken or injured people as an important institution for delivery of emergency care.
• Governor Gray Davis, State of California, commendation to BEMCC dated Feb. 26, 1999, for outstanding leadership and countless contributions to California's communities.
Becoming a member of the Binational Emergency Medical Care Committee and having its toll-free number always available when traveling in Mexico could literally save your life someday. See "Baja Beat" column by Gene Kira, former Mexico Reports Editor of Western Outdoor News, the largest outdoor weekly newspaper in the United States, who personally recommends membership in BEMCC after more than 40 years of experience in traveling in Mexico.
It Could Save Your Life
Click Here to Join the BEMCC Online