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Member Spotlight: Guatemala Volcano Response

Jorge Luis Hidalgo, MD, MCCM, MACP, is head of the intensive care unit (ICU) and professor of critical care at Belize Healthcare Partners and Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, Belize. He supported Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego response efforts.

In June 2018, Volcán de Fuego in southern Guatemala erupted, causing a series of explosions and pyroclastic flows along with lahars and clouds of volcanic ash. It was the deadliest volcanic eruption in Guatemala since 1929.

In response, the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) implemented its emergency response plan in Guatemala. Dr. Hidalgo quickly offered to assist and played a key role in response efforts. He traveled to Escuintla, Guatemala, where he collaborated with SCCM member Alex Dagoberto Loarca, MD, and coordinated communication between local healthcare organizations and SCCM. Drs. Hidalgo and Loarca remained in close communication with Dr. Armando Alvarado, head of the ICU at Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social, and the nearby government hospital.

“They are a fundamental part of the academic development here in my country, Guatemala. They were always attentive and willing to offer any kind of help to improve this kind of situation,” Dr. Alvarado shared in an interview with a colleague about this experience. “Thank you SCCM, Dr. Hidalgo, and Dr. Loarca for all your support during this very difficult situation.”

As a result of these connections, under the leadership of Drs. Hidalgo and Loarca, and with the support of SCCM member faculty, SCCM’s Fundamental Critical Care Support (FCCS) course was held in Guatemala for the first time. The course was a great success, with more than 85 trainees participating. Plans have been made for additional FCCS courses to be held in the future.

Learn more about Fundamental Critical Care Support programs at

As part of its special Giving Issue, the Society of Critical Care Medicine sought to profile members of the critical care community who are giving back to their communities in all kinds of ways. Are you or someone you know working to make a difference? Share your story for a future issue​.