TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – A national organization aims to provide under-served areas around the world with refurbished medical equipment and fire extinguishers from Tampa Bay.
One World Medics began in Fort Wayne, Indiana with Executive Director Bryan Peterson.
Peterson grew up in San Diego. He explained to 8 On Your Side that he and some high school friends were in Tijuana, Mexico when a building exploded during a gas leak near where they were staying.
Peterson said he had some basic medical knowledge and was helping as best he could. He met some gentlemen from the local rescue organization and decided to help as much as possible.
“The Red Cross generally has 911 ambulance, but they’re so understaffed and understaffed, but there just aren’t enough ambulances to handle the volume of calls,” Peterson said of Mexico. “So these so-called” civil associations “, which are basically a group of people who have decided to put together an ambulance or rescue service and support the Red Cross, so to speak.”
Peterson returned to help every weekend with few exceptions, he said until he graduated from high school. He kept in touch with the organization when he moved from California to Indiana.
In the summer of 2019, he bonded with a man in the Fort Wayne Fire Department where he worked and who had an interest in Third World medicine. Peterson recommended a trip to Tijuana to volunteer.
“We kind of found it in a sad state. They had an ambulance that was running, that particular service, and it collapsed in the middle of the shift, ”he explained.
When the friends returned to Indiana after their trip, Peterson said one of the places he worked part-time had an ambulance the company was preparing for “retirement.” He made a deal with the ambulance broker to pay what a trade-in would be for the vehicle and was given a $ 3,500 personal loan to buy the vehicle.
Thanks to fundraisers by Hispanic cultural leaders, the ambulance was renovated and the Tijuana crew flown into the state to pick up the ambulance.
“It was supposed to end there somehow and that was because it was just a series of happy events,” said Peterson. “There were two other units that had just been decommissioned from the same hospital here in Fort Wayne and were out here in the county garage lot. They had been and sat there for a year, there were just really nice ambulances. “
Peterson said he inquired about them and learned they were going up for auction. He could buy two ambulances for $ 777.
He said that in the first two months of childhood One World Medics gave away four ambulances. During this time, the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and the process of getting ambulances across the border into Mexico accelerated to put the vehicles into operation to transport critical coronavirus patients.
Tony Falls was introduced to Peterson while working for the Fort Wayne Fire Department. He spent 13 years there before moving to Florida.
He tries to help his friend through departments and organizations here in the Tampa Bay area.
“So I’m trying to get the word out and my intention is really to reach out to some of the Hispanic organizations in the EU [Tampa] Bay Area to try and speak up and see if they’re interested in raising funds, “Falls said.
He said some of the communities he contacted about units are skeptical of liability.
“If it comes from taxpayers’ money, they want the unit to stay in the area instead of donating it. So I’m trying to get private services,” he said.
Falls stated that one unit revolution costs about $ 1,800 to use. However, if additional work is required like a new gearbox or alternator, the nonprofit can run anywhere from $ 3,000 to $ 4,000.
“For me we are such a large, diverse community. Not even the Tampa Bay community, but the state too. Local business leaders have many contacts. And in all honesty, fire chiefs, rescue workers, chiefs of staff can even let the world know about units … If they have to auction it, there are likely some resources to take in to get the resources, ”Falls said.
Since founding One World Medics in 2019, Peterson has given away 14 ambulances. Neither of these have yet to be from the Tampa Bay area, but Falls hopes this will be known soon.
The only expense the non-profit organization doesn’t cover is the ability to get the ambulance across the border.
“There’s usually a waiting list … this thing has spread like wildfire,” said Peterson.
He stated that there were about 13 or 14 agencies around the world on this list.
“Try to get them full on the gills with equipment,” he said of the ambulances.
If you want to get involved, you can Visit the organization’s website for more information. One World Medics here in Tampa Bay is always on the lookout for equipment donations and those interested can contact Falls at [email protected]