The firefighters of the Pavas station have more than battling fires on their hands, they have to deal, on average two times a week, gunshot victims left at their doorstep that for the most part die in their hands while being treated.
The director of the Cuerpo de Bomberos, Héctor Chaves, said this has been going on since the Pavas station opened its doors in March 1991.
The reason is that fire station is on the main road from the conflictive area of Lomas de Pavas and closer for the victims to get basic life support than the Hospital Mexico or Hospital San Juan de Dios, as friends and relatives rush the victim in a private vehicle rather than wait for an ambulance, the nearest kilometers away, from the central station of San José, since there are no ambulances at the Pavas firehouse.
This also ensures authorities are not aware of the crime scene and for the most part those make the drop off flee the fire station immediately.
A 22-year-old woman, identified as Judith Madrigal Agüero, is the most recent fatality left on Saturday on the sidewalk in front of the Pavas Fire Station. In that case, firefighters had to transfer to hospital the two men with serious injuries that accompanied the woman, a victim of multiple gunshot wounds in the chest and right arm.
Unknown aboard a private vehicle from Lomas del Río dropped all three.
The survivors were identified by the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) as Anderson Juárez Picado, Nicaraguan, 23, and Jolbin López Aroca, 29. Both were shot in the legs and suffered a major loss of blood.
As is in most of the cases, the OIJ do not know the reason why the three were short, theorizing it was a settlement of scores. According to witnesses, the three were shot at by four men on two motorcycles while on the public road. The gunslingers fled the scene.
The incident occurred only three days after a 37-year-old man was shot dead in a similar manner in roughly the same area.
“Sometimes the matter becomes very complex, because the victims arrive wounded and enter the station, while those shooters circle the station to try to finish their work,” said Chaves.
He added that they are such tense minutes that the Fuerza Publica (police) is immediately called to provide support, the alarm is activated and ambulances are requested from the central station.
He indicated that years ago they had to place a perimeter mesh. Even so, sometimes the whole gang gets inside the building, even with firearms, become violent and generate tension in the paramedics treating the patients before transfer.
When the victims are many, help from other stations has to be called.
The situation has led the fire station to install a button that alerts the Municipal Police every time a car arrives at full speed and onto the sidewalk.
Sometimes, the victims arrive in the back of the police pick-up to get the closest first response attention.
Chaves says the work of attending to gunshot wounds is not the primary responsibility of the Firefighters, but since there is no Cruz Roja (Red Cross) in Pavas, they have had to assume the task
“We cannot deny the service because humanitarian attention is part of our function,” said the director.
Chaves added that the situation at the Pavas fire station is getting worse.
“Sometimes the deceased is left in front of the main first station gates, so if an emergency arises due to fire, attention is difficult, because fire trucks cannot leave because of the death, the site becomes a judicial scene that it cannot be disturbed,” said Chaves.
In Costa Rica, the body of a victim of violence (including a traffic death) cannot be removed without the order of a judge. The scene remains under the custody of the Fuerza Publica while the OIJ performs their on the scene investigation and a judge orders the removal of the body.