(Associated Press) LUZ DARY DEPABLOS and SCOTT SMITH October 11 2019 SAN CRISTOBAL Venezuela Ambulances have become the latest casualty of Venezuelas unraveling political and economic crisis struggling to fuel up and speed away to emergencies as gasoline scarcities deepen. Long lines winding for miles up to service stations are often commonplace for residents living in border states and remote areas of the South American country which has the worlds largest proven oil reserves. But first responders in the mountainous state of Tachira said this week theyre now being stripped of priority service due to the work of smugglers who sneak Venezuelas dirt-cheap gas to Colombia for huge profits. We cannot equip ambulances" said Nelson Surez a medical assistant with the Civil Protection service. We have units headed to emergencies that have run out of fuel." Surez said that without gas drivers are not able to provide routine transport to mothers giving birth elderly patients with terminal illnesses needing care and diabetics requiring dialysis. Medical workers say its only a matter of time before shortages lead to a needless death. On Monday the seriousness of the situation was underscored when two soldiers and a civilian injured in a traffic collision were forced to rely on a passing motorist to take them to a regional clinic to be treated because an ambulance couldnt be deployed. Their injuries turned out to be relatively minor.
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