The city of Juarez, Mexico has been ravaged by drug war violence, with more than 5,000 homicides in the city of 1.3 million since January 2008. Responding to the violence has been a huge task for paramedics, who often tend to as many as 20 gunshot victims in a single afternoon.
Because private ambulances have been wary of the firefights and have stayed away, the only available responders are city paramedics, who don't have access to ambulances themselves and must rely on the Red Cross for supplies and transportation. The paramedics must be protected by police when they tend to a victim, since the shooters often come back and inflict more violence. Sometimes, shooters even enter hospitals and claim victims there, which is why some hospitals don't want to admit patients with gunshot wounds.
The paramedics' jobs could become even more difficult in the coming months: with the killing of six federal policemen at a busy intersection recently, there is fear the drug cartels will step up their attacks on the government forces sent to restore order.
"They have threatened us on our radio frequency, telling us about a certain scene and ordering us not to go near it or they are going to shoot at us." - Carlos Buenrostro, paramedic supervisor
"It is better that you don't go out on the streets carrying a cell phone." - shooting victim
“There are cases when the gunmen go into the hospitals and shoot patients and go. That's why many private hospitals don't want these patients with gunshot injuries, because they don't have the security.” - Jorge Jimenez, paramedic supervisor
1. Where is Juarez, Mexico? Why has it been in the news lately?
2. Why is the Juarez violence important to the United States?
3. What do you know about gang violence and how it escalates?
1. According to the video, what are the drug cartels fighting over?
2. Why do you think it is so hard to provide adequate security in Juarez? Why have police been unable to protect the city?
3. Lawmakers have so far been unsuccessful in stopping the drug wars along Mexico's border. What do you think it will take for the violence to calm down? What could the U.S. do to help the Mexican government?
4. What can you do to stop drug violence?