Puerto Rico Medical Emergencies Corps
|Headquarters||Rodval Building, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico|
|Jurisdiction||Commonwealth of Puerto Rico|
|BLS or ALS||BLS/ALS|
|Fly-cars||30 (SUV's and Motorcycles)|
|Director||Abner Gomez Cortes, MBA|
|Medical director||Jorge Mejia Valle, MD|
The Puerto Rico Medical Emergencies Corps (Spanish: Negociado del Cuerpo de Emergencias Médicas de Puerto Rico (NCEMPR) or (CEMPR) is an agency of the executive branch of the government of Puerto Rico that responds to fire, police, and medical emergencies in Puerto Rico. The agency is assigned to the Department of Public Safety, which also includes the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, the Puerto Rico Firefighters Bureau, and many other agencies. The NCEMPR divides Puerto Rico into six regions for operational purposes with each region having its own dispatch. NCEMPR is directed by Abner Gomez Cortes and the commissioner is Guillermo Torruella.
All administrative operations are conducted from its headquarters in the neighborhood of Amelia in Guaynabo. From there, tactical operations are coordinated with its six command centers located in Guaynabo, Ponce, Arecibo, Mayagüez, Caguas, Fajardo and Aguadilla, locations strategically positioned to cover the entire island.
After 1969, ambulance services were primarily the responsibility of the municipalities, but there was a lack of ambulances, especially in mountainous areas. In 1969, Governor Luis A. Ferre created the Puerto Rico Medical Emergencies Corps, under the direct control of the Puerto Rico Department of Health. All medical emergency calls were received through the PRPD's telephone line. Then, if an ambulance was needed, the PRPD dispatched an ambulance. In 1994, the Puerto Rico 911 center was created, and all emergencies were dispatched to the police, fire and the NCEMPR dispatch region of the emergency.
In the mid-1990s, NCEMPR began using the ambulances of the Municipal Offices of Emergency Management of San Juan, Guaynabo and Bayamon. They were joined later by Ponce, Carolina, Cayey, Arroyo, Mayagüez, and others. Then, in 2008, private ambulances were added to the system to reduce backlogs in the system.
Also, since the late 1990s groups of rescue volunteers have proliferated in Puerto Rico, especially in the San Juan Metro Area, specifically the municipalities of San Juan, Bayamon, Guaynabo, Trujillo Alto, Carolina, Loiza, Canovanas, Cataño, Toa Baja, Toa Alta, Dorado and Caguas. Their primary mission is to assist the already overburdened emergency medical system in the evening, when cases are duplicated by accident, case reports and critical cases. In 2009, NCEMPR began using Puerto Rico Fire Corps stations to place their EMT posts to better served the community. Now NCEMPR, along with the Puerto Rico Fire Corps, serves mountain towns where ambulance services tended to be late due to their remoteness.
The motto for the Puerto Rico Medical Emergencies Corps is "Nuestra Vida es Salvar Vidas" ("Our Life is to Save Lives").
NCEMPR worked in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Hospital Coalition to update its operational plans to ensure readiness to respond to hurricanes.
In April 2017, governor Ricardo Rosselló signed into law the creation of the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety which unified, under an umbrella organization, all government agencies responsible for law enforcement and emergency response in Puerto Rico. All agencies became bureaus of the department.
In 2019 the bureau had 624 employees, but with a total of only 570 paramedics, the lowest in its history. Many believed this was due to austerity cuts. The average ambulance response time is 20 minutes, double the amount of time if the bureau were able to follow best practices.
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