Typically fire stations are to house firefighters and their equipment. But the station in Pavas, San Jose, mainly has become a drop-off point for those injured in acts of violence, mainly from turf wars between rival gangs.
Rather than firefighters rushing to an emergency, cars pull up to the fire station and drop off the injured and dying.
As was the case Sunday night, when a car pulls up to the firehouse to drop off three people with gunshot wounds.
In Sunday night’s case, when paramedics went out to check the patients, two were already dead. All that was left for them was to call in the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) ton investigate, the death a woman and a man whose name were not released to the press. (updated 12:35pm).
The third person was stabilized and sent in a Cruz Roja ambulance to San Juan de Dios Hospital. Relatives of the deceased arrived at the station and were bewildered by the tragedy.
Shortly after, emergency services also attended near the Pavas fire station two other men, found inside a vehicle, with gunshot wounds. They were also taken to the medical center.
The firefighters at Pavas station assure that each week they have to attend between one or two cases of people shot who are being dropped off.
The reason: the majority of the injured, dying or dead were involved in some criminal activity, typically gang violence that is common in areas like in Lomas and La Carpio, in the range of the Pavas station and at the fire station, unlike at hospitals, those making the drop are not questioned or held for police.
The 60 firefighters of the Pavas station have to deal with the ugliest being the firehouse with most emergencies and the most threats.
“In Pavas there is no Cruz Roja (Red Cross station) and that means that many times, when there are shootings and someone is injured, they bring them here instead of taking them directly to the hospital. In most of these situations, people who are injured are involved in gang violence in the area, so friends know that if they take the injured to a medical center they are likely to be arrested, so they prefer to come to Leave them at the station,” explained Cristian Sánchez, with 22 years firefighting experience, the last two as chief of the Pavas station.
According to the Bomberos data, last year firefighters attended to 66,870 emergencies across the country: the Pavas station dealt with 3,348 of the cases, followed by the Heredia station with 3,310; and in third place was the Alajuela center with 3,239.