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Manta Airmen train Ecuadorian firefighters, firekids

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Beth Woodward
  • 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron Public Affairs
Over 20 Airmen here volunteered to provide hands-on medical and fire response training to a group of Ecuadorian firefighters and firekids at FOL Manta Jan. 31.

A team of 25 "bomberos," or firefighters, and 15 "bomberitos," young adults preparing to become firefighters, travelled an hour from the town of Colon, Ecuador to learn how to respond to emergencies using available resources.

Manta's flight surgeon, Maj. (Dr.) Lisa Firestone, led efforts to teach the bomberitos basic first aid skills such as controlling bleeding, splinting fractures and the Heimlich maneuver.

"Depending on where they are, it may take a long time for medical resources to get to them," said Major Firestone. "By knowing these skills to treat an injury, they may save a life."

On the other side of FOL Manta, Colon bomberos prepared to step into a simulated structural fire. Manta fire department personnel briefed and outfitted the bomberos before placing them into teams and sending them through scenarios in the simulator. 

"Coming to a controlled, live fire is a once in a lifetime experience for them," said Abdur-Raheem As-Siddiq, FOL Manta fire chief. "Hopefully, they see what it's really like and initiate effective measures at their unit to better respond."

Manta last trained Ecuadorian firefighters in 2007, when over the course of a year, approximately 220 bomberos from across the nation travelled to Manta for academic and practical training.

"This was a great experience. We were able to practice responding with complete and proper equipment," said Colon Fire Chief, William Mera Zambrano.

Manta Airmen began volunteering with Colon's group of 170 bomberitos in August 2008. As the FOL transitions, this program will be among a handful of organizations to which Airmen concentrate their time and resources.