Two Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) firefighters recently returned from personal leave after a humanitarian mission to Los Robles, Guatemala, where they traveled with a group of 12 volunteers supporting a local Utah organization, Humanitize Expeditions. The organization assists those interested in becoming humanitarian aid workers by matching skills to the needs of the people being helped.

This was not the first trip for Tooele County residents, TEAD firefighter/EMT paramedic Kory Jones, and his wife Dani Jones, registered nurse (RN) at Mountain West Medical Center Emergency Department, Tooele. But this time, they brought their daughter Rachael, who is studying to be an RN, and fellow TEAD firefighter/EMT Josh Karabatsos, with them to continue the humanitarian work in Guatemala.

They were fortunate to be able to do more advanced training with local firefighters, known as "bomberos", at stations 33 Cia. Bomberos Voluntarios Panajachel and 34 Cia. San Andreas, shared Karabatsos.

"Meeting and working with the bomberos in San Andreas was amazing," said Karabatsos. "I've never felt more welcome visiting a firehouse than I did there. Running calls and training with the bomberos was so satisfying."

Kory said that working with the bomberos during this recent trip was the most rewarding visit yet.

"We were able to build our relationship with the bomberos and truly affect some change," he shared. "They appreciate the time we spend teaching more than just the materials we bring."

The Jones' were introduced to Humanitize Expeditions through colleagues at work and had always wanted to be involved with humanitarian missions.

They began volunteering with the organization in 2017 and were able to work with bomberos who welcomed them into their station, treated them like family, gave tours and shared their day-to-day routines. On a return trip in 2018, the volunteers provided patient care in the local clinic, and hands-on training with the bomberos in the evening, teaching basic life support, field trauma basics and techniques to gain IV access on patients.

"My wife and I go back to Guatemala year after year because they need the help," shared Kory.

During this trip, they returned to a clinic in Los Robles to continue providing much needed medical care and more training to the local midwives.

Karabatsos, also a Tooele County resident, has volunteered in the Tooele community teaching basic life support skills to daycare providers and teachers, but this was different.

"Visiting small villages, setting up a clinic and seeing everyone we helped so grateful, from the smallest treatment of wellness checks to prescribing medications…it was humbling," said Karabatsos.

The TEAD team received support through personal donations and colleagues arranging work schedules to accommodate their humanitarian mission.

"We feel very fortunate to be a part of such a great giving-back adventure and look forward to the future," said Kory.