marc bence/for metro edmonton


Edmonton paramedics Lisa Allen, right, and Amy Hassen have returned from Belize this week after assisting local medics in the country with the creation of an emergency response system.

Two local paramedics have returned to Edmonton after helping out more than 40 emergency response volunteers in Belize, a central-American country still struggling with the after-effects of Hurricane Dean and a lack of medical funding.

After Lisa Allen and Amy Hassen arrived at Belize City — equipped with donated textbooks, medical equipment and medicine to be used in a training program — the pair says they learned a lot of lessons as they worked with a group of volunteers.

"Their medical system is not up to our standards, but they do well with what they have," said Hassen.

Belize, with a population of more than 290,000, is the only officially English-speaking country in Central America, which is located south of Mexico.

The pair travelled to the country through Bandages International, a Nova Scotia-based charity focused on helping developing countries with their emergency planning.

When the pair arrived, Hassen says she was stricken by the quality of health care in the country given that it’s "grossly underfunded."

"We are very fortunate to live in Canada, especially with our medical system," she said. "The technology that we have here is really unbelievable and they don’t have that kind of technology in Belize."

Hassen said Bandages International donated a heart-rate monitor to a hospital in the country sometime before their trip, which turned out to be the only heart-rate monitor the hospital had.

The pair, along with the organization, are planning a fundraiser for another trip to Belize. The fundraiser could include a steak and lobster dinner this spring at Fort Edmonton, they said.