- Title: Brigade of health volunteers saves Venezuelan protesters amid crisis
- Date: 22nd May 2017
- Summary: PARAMEDIC ATTENDING TO WOUND
- Embargoed: 5th June 2017 19:20
- Keywords: Nicolas Maduro crisis protests medicine health Venezuela
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0026HX8WNB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: In Caracas, around 120 medicine students, doctors, and volunteers have revived a primary care response team first created during 2014's bout of anti-government protests, as the latest wave of demonstrations has led to a death toll of 47 and hundreds wounded protesters facing a collapsed health system.
While they wear white helmets with a green cross, none of the volunteers wear flak jackets and some resort to wearing goggles to protect themselves from tear gas. Their equipment has nearly all been donated or bought by the volunteers themselves, and they've had to create makeshift neck braces from shoes, belts, and hats.
Still, when the determined group walks through a protest in single file, demonstrators stop their shouts of "No more dictatorship!" and instead clap and cheer them on with yells of "Thank you!" and "Heroes!"
Founder, Daniela Liendo, says she did not study for such eventualities, but that caring for people on the front line has strengthened her resolve to remain in Venezuela and continue a career in medicine.
Amid a widespread feeling of abandonment in a country where the economy is thought to have contracted 19 percent last year and many basic services only function intermittently, the volunteer doctors are seen as a ray of hope.
Close-range rubber bullets, flying rocks, tear gas canisters and tear gas have caused the majority of wounds and health problems, according to over a dozen doctors and rights groups.
The group, which describes itself as apolitical, also treats security officials. Still, it has come under fire from some government supporters who compare them to Syria's White Helmets rescue workers, which says they are trying to hide paramilitary actions in the streets. The medical group refuted the accusations.
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