Guatemalans visit East Texas to thank fire department for life-saving donations

The mayor from the small Guatemalan city of San Jose Pinula said the city of Tyler's donation saved "many lives." (Source: KLTV)
The mayor from the small Guatemalan city of San Jose Pinula said the city of Tyler's donation saved "many lives." (Source: KLTV)
Pictured is the actual ambulance that the City of Tyler is donating to the Guatemalan city of San Jose Pinula. This is the second such donation in recent years. (Source: KLTV)
Pictured is the actual ambulance that the City of Tyler is donating to the Guatemalan city of San Jose Pinula. This is the second such donation in recent years. (Source: KLTV)

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Dignitaries from Guatemala visited Tyler on Wednesday to thank officials for donating an ambulance to a small city there, and in the process, helping to save future lives and improve medical care. It's the second such donation in recent years.

"We were able to donate to Guatemalans one of our old reserve trucks," said Joey Hooton, assistant fire chief for the city of Tyler.

Several years ago, a retired fire truck was donated to the small Guatemalan city of San Jose Pinula.

"Our fire station has no fire truck, so we would have to request a truck from another station, and they would help us when they could," said Miguel Solares, mayor of San Jose Pinula.

"I went down to Guatemala just to show them how to operate the truck, showed them how to pump the truck, what buttons did what, worked with a translator," Hooton said. "We made a video for them to fall back on later, and I went with a mission group. Turns out, I got more out of it then they did. "

In the time since, that truck and newly-trained firefighters have delivered babies, put out fires, and rescued hundreds of people from emergency situations.

"It has been incredibly important for us because now we have been able to tend to all the people's needs that live in our municipality," Solares said.

The city of Tyler is now sending a second donation, which will be making its way to San Jose Pinula: a retired ambulance. 

"We're trying to coordinate a group of guys to go down there and teach CPR, first aid, heat related illnesses," Hooton said. "There's so many things that we take for granted that they could repurpose and reuse for a greater cause."

"Now with the ambulance, it is going to be a great asset to our community," Solares added. "With it, we will be able to serve so many more people and meet the needs in our area."

The ambulance will receive a few modifications over the next week before it is filled with medical supplies and sent to Guatemala. 

Both donations were coordinated in part by a Tyler missionary group called Hope Ignited. San Jose Pinula is also currently being considered for a sister city partnership with Tyler

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