The donation of two ambulances by the Maria Holder Memorial Trust to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has led to the Emergency Ambulance Service (EAS) now being equipped with nine vehicles to respond to the 14 000-16 000 emergency calls it receives annually.
The trust handed over the two ambulances during a ceremony at the EAS Wildey, St Michael headquarters on Monday, where trustee, King’s Counsel, Peter Symmonds, announced that in order to help the service achieve its ideal target of 12 functioning ambulances, the registered charity had agreed to purchase two ambulances in 2024, provided that the QEH purchases one this year.
Symmonds noted that in addition to the two fully-equipped ambulances, the trust also donated two additional stretchers, safety vests, helmets and dispatcher headsets. He said the entire donation cost an estimated $400 000.
“In order to make the appropriate intervention, with equipment should also come training and we have agreed to assist with funding the training of up to 15 dispatchers by April 2023 so that when you call 511 you should be assured that you are speaking to personnel who are continually trained to carry out their duties. This is therefore seen as a complement to the provision of the ambulances and equipment which we fervently expect will be immediately put to good use,” Symmonds said.
The trustee also indicated that the staff of the trust has received presentations on healthcare from EAS Medical Consultant, Dr David Byer.
Dr Byer said while the service responds to 50 to 60 calls per day, the additional ambulances allow for the fleet to last longer while undergoing the necessary servicing and preventative maintenance.
“This bolsters our fleet. Our target is between 10 to 12 vehicles and this allows for the fleet to last longer because it allows us to do the necessary maintenance. I mean not all 10 to 12 would be off the road at the same time, but we would be able to pull them out and do the necessary servicing and the necessary preventative maintenance to allow them to last for a very long time.
“We are working with the trust in terms of supporting training with respect to the dispatchers and that is something that we are looking at in 2023. And further down the road, that is basically very preliminary, we are going to be looking at paramedic training as well as possibly driver training for emergency drivers of the vehicles so that they can function a lot safer,” Dr Byer said.
Sales Director of NASSCO Limited, Roger Moore, who sourced the ambulances, said that a down payment for an additional vehicle has already been made and suppliers have already started manufacturing it.
“In the next couple months you should be receiving that. We hope that it would not take as long as these last two took, but this is a quieter time, the end of the year is always a busy time, so I think that this time you should be receiving it much sooner so that you can get the other one ordered before the year is out,” Moore said.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Sonia Browne, extended gratitude to the Trust for the donation and the pledge to train staff of the EAS.
She said the trust’s contribution adds to the care and treatment of patients, specifically due to the decrease in waiting times and availability of ambulances and provision of-well trained staff.
“All these of course will impact positively on morbidity and mortality rates from injury and illness throughout the island,” Dr Browne said. (AH)