Volunteers Video story

Guatemala’s most dangerous road

Given the high number of accidents on the northern CA-9 highway, the presence of the Guatemalan Red Cross has been a relief for the community of Santo Tomás de Castilla.

The CA-9 highway is Guatemala’s inter-oceanic route, connecting Puerto Quetzal, located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, with Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic. Besides being one of the busiest routes in the country, the northern CA-9 is known to be one of the most dangerous. Unfortunately, 2022 was no exception. According to official data, the northern section of this highway registered the highest number of road accidents, with a total of 355.

Behind each of these numbers are real stories of people whose lives have been changed in an instant by an accident. Omar Ardón Duarte is one of those people. He had a bad accident at the entrance to Santo Tomás de Castilla and spent 22 days in a coma as a result of his injuries. For him, this was the place where his life changed completely, and made him aware of how quickly life can change in an instant: “One minute equals life or death,” he says.

The role of Guatemalan Red Cross volunteers is essential when accidents happen in this dangerous road.

Motivated by tragedy

After his father’s accident, Roberto Ardón decided to volunteer with the Guatemalan Red Cross. The support and service provided to his father motivated him to join the organization, and he has since dedicated his time to helping others.

The emergency calls to the local Red Cross delegation come as no surprise. The crossing to Santo Tomás de Castilla via the CA-9 road is one of the busiest areas and the risk of accidents is very high. “In this area we experience a lot of accidents, especially involving motorbikes,” says Roberto.

Like Roberto, Olimpia de León knows first hand the risks of this road. Her husband also had a serious accident, but at that time there was no Red Cross delegation and the availability of ambulances to transport him to the hospital was very limited or almost non-existent.

Olimpia then decided to work to establish a Red Cross branch in the area. Considering the high risks of accidents, the impact the branch in the community through the work of its volunteers has been very positive. Now, Olimpia is an ambulance driver for the Guatemalan Red Cross in the Santo Tomás de Castilla delegation.

The key to the services provided here is to be empathetic and sensitive to people’s needs. “What I always remind the volunteers is the importance of being able to provide a quality service to people,” explains Yamileth Orellana, Guatemalan Red Cross member in Santo Tomás de Castilla. “Being empathetic will help us to carry out different actions in a consistent way and to be able to do good for people in need”.

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This story was produced by Roberto Ardón,
a talented storyteller from Guatemalan Red Cross.

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