Scottsdale Sister Cities and the Rotary Club of Scottsdale banded together to donate an ambulance to the Sister City of Alamos, Mexico, in an official ceremony Nov. 22, ending a frustrating three-year wait to deliver the vehicle.
The cities of Scottsdale and Alamos have had a deep relationship for over 50 years that has resulted in exchanges of art, students and firefighters.
When Max Rumbaugh Jr., former president of both Scottsdale Sister Cities and the Rotary Club, first heard that the Alamos Fire Department only had one ambulance to use for the entire city, he began working to solve that problem.
“Alamos is a large town with a lot of small villages in the countryside,” said Rumbaugh. “These ambulances get heavy use due to the poor roads which is why they were looking to us to supplement their older ambulance with a new one. They do not have the funds in Alamos nor in the state of Sonora to provide them with a new ambulance.”
Frightened by this news, Rumbaugh reached out to his close friend and current Rotary President Dale Gray – and then they discovered the bureaucracy involved with giving an ambulance away.
Gray tracked down an ambulance from American Medical Response.
“We negotiated with the owner of the ambulance and they donated it as the result of it being something they had replaced but was still usable and valuable to our Sister City of Alamos Mexico,” Rumbaugh said.
“The biggest problem was getting the approval for cross border donation,” he said. “The Mexican government had rules for bringing in vehicles that became a real headache.”
The ambulance had been ready to make the journey to Alamos for nearly three years and the pandemic has further hindered the process.
Alamos was completely shut down during the darkest days of the pandemic and as a result, the city that thrives on tourism to account for the bulk of its economy faced hardships.
Because of this, Sister Cities of Scottsdale and the Rotary Club of Scottsdale felt it was now or never to get this ambulance to Alamos to save lives.
“The ambulance will provide updated technology to the firefighters and most importantly a much more reliable ambulance. It will not be as prone to breakdown,” said Rumbaugh. “(Firefighters) are very well trained with modern medical techniques but have a lack of updated medical equipment.”
The ambulance was received on the morning of Nov. 22 by Presidente Victor Manuel Balderrama Cardenas and his delegation, who made his fourth visit to Scottsdale and met Mayor David Ortega for the first time.
The benefit has been that we have gotten a better understanding of what Mexico is really like and how beautiful a city Alamos is,” said Rumbaugh. “The whole purpose of this is to build better international relationships on a one-on-one basis.”
The exchange has also provided a much-needed relief to Alamos.
“We are very grateful to the Rotary Club of Scottsdale for the great effort they have made to make this dream come true,” said Amelia Anaya Rosas, the director of tourism for Alamos.
“The health of our brothers and sisters from the remote communities that belong to Alamos is very important and it has been very worrying to not be able to bring them in an emergency vehicle from the high mountains of our town,” she added.
Rosas also feels that this has served as a prime example of a collaborative relationship between two cities divided by a border and a language barrier.
“This is an example of the great coordination and an excellent relationship that has prevailed between our sister cities for more than 50 years,” she said.
As for the ambulance, it is still awaiting final clearance to cross the border and will be held in Nogales, Arizona, until it gets that.