Community Stories

Red Deer’s Angels in Mexico

March 15, 2024

Over five days, a six-man team from RDES trained 100 bomberos from eleven Mexican municipalities with the Angels for Mexico program.

“The ripple effect is huge. You’re going to change lives”

From March 1 to 6, six members of the Red Deer Emergency Services team made their way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as part of the Angels for Mexico program.

Angels for Mexico is a non-profit charity that strives to improve the lives and safety of Mexican families by providing firefighters, or Bomberos in Spanish, with equipment and training. The charity matches firefighting services in Mexico with Canadian fire services willing and able to donate surplus equipment, supplies, and most importantly, hands-on training.

“We were very flattered and excited when Christena asked us to participate in this project. Our whole team believed that what we were being asked to do was going to greatly benefit our brothers and sisters to the south,” said Chris Needham, Red Deer Emergency Services.

Little may be an understatement. Some Bomberos and Bomberas may receive absolutely no training before heading out into the field to perform life-threatening emergency response.

“What they don’t have in both gear and equipment is frightening. But there are incredible ripple effects each time a shipment arrives or training is given,” said Christena Callaghan, President and founder of Angels for Mexico. “Some of these Bomberos have never touched a fire hose prior to this training, so it is an incredible experience for everyone involved.”

During the five days of training, the RDES team took 100 Bomberos (firefighters) from 11 different municipalities through as much training as they could, focusing on a multitude of different Firefighting skills such as hose movement, water applications, fire behavior and ventilation, firefighter survival, repelling and slope rescue, vehicle stabilization, extrication and CPR.

"It was extremely humbling and inspiring to work with the Bomberos. As you would expect, they are very passionate, professional and hardworking. We are so fortunate with the City of Red Deer, to receive continuous, high-quality training as part of our profession, the Bomberos and their communities simply don't have the funding for equipment and training like we do. So, to be involved with Angels for Mexico; to facilitate training and assist with donations of much needed safety equipment, is an honor. The gratitude and hospitality we experienced in Mexico was unbelievable, and we truly left feeling like we were part of their family. It was an amazing experience," said Needham.

As part of the Angels for Mexico program, Christena also works with Canadian fire services to donate equipment and ships crates of donated items including SCBAs, PASS alarms, radios, ropes, hooks, rappelling gear and anything else municipalities are willing to donate.

“There’s really nothing they can’t use or won’t take,” said Christena. “Truly, some crews operate out of little more than a tool shed with a few shovels.” Another equipment shipment is already being coordinated for January 2025.

Christena is always delighted by the incredible bonding that occurs during each training mission. “This week of training with our Red Deer Team and meeting the Chief gave these Bomberos a sense of hope and a feeling that they are respected. I can barely find the words to express my gratitude to Chief McMullen and this incredible team from Red Deer.”

Christena Callaghan started Angels for Mexico in 2007, and since that time has helped hundreds of Bomberos receive important skills and critical equipment, and continues to improve the quality of firefighting services in the Puerto Vallarta region. To learn more about Angels for Mexico, visit