San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Romeros keep Costa Rica Red Cross busy


Costa Ricans making the trek to Cartago this weekend suffered muscle aches, sunburns and even alcohol poisoning on the journey.
The Red Cross treated more than 6,663 of the estimated 2 million Ticos who participated in the romería, the annual pilgrimage to the Basílica de los Angeles in Cartago, east of the capital, to honor the Virgin Mary. The holiday was celebrated Monday, although devotees arrived in Cartago throughout the weekend. The Red Cross tended to those on the pilgrimage for 60 hours, with posts at various locations along the busiest route, from San José to Cartago.
Guillermo Arroyo, director of relief operations forthe Red Cross, said demobilization of the care stations, which were placed in 11 different locations, began at midday Monday. But for three days, the Red Cross workers were kept busy.
The majority of patients were treated for muscle aches (3,967), followed by general medical complaints (1,941). Third was miscellaneous (381), and the only other two complaints with treatment numbers inthe hundreds were trauma (112) and dizziness (102). Still, several other maladies were cited in a Red Cross press release about treatments during the romería. These complaints included sunburn, pediatric care, falls, aggression, collisions, cardiac problems and even intoxication.
Most patients treated were women (59 percent), while 615 were children under 11. Fifty-three of the children needed to be transported to medical centers. The post that received the most patients was Ochomongo (2,305) near Cartago, and the basílica medical post (1,443). The rest of the stations all treated fewerthan 1,000 patients.
Approximately 500 Red Cross employees,from physicians and paramedics to drivers and telecommunication officers, helped monitor the walk. The effort cost ¢35 million, including the cost of labor hours.
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