4 Sept 2014

Who doh hear, will feel!

Does anyone care in Trinidad and Tobago that people may be dying because of poor response times by our emergency services?

I spent three months in T&T this year, between February 15 and May 14. During that time, two close friends died. The first was the wife of my best friend who took ill suddenly. He called for an ambulance to take his wife to the hospital but after about 35 minutes when none arrived, he called back, only to be told the ambulance was coming from Chaguanas. He and his wife lived on Woodford Street in Newtown. His brother decided to take her in a private vehicle. On arrival, they were told gurney services would not be provided because she did not arrive in an ambulance. She died not long after.

About a month after, a friend of ours who lived at the same address on Woodford Street became ill. Again, we called an ambulance. As we waited for the ambulance, I recalled the problem we had when my best friend’s wife died. So we called back, only to find out the ambulance, this time, was coming from Arima. We wasted no time in getting him into a private vehicle but this time, we took him to the St James Infirmary (I’m not sure if it’s still called by that name) so he could be put into an ambulance and then taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital. He also died later.

When I enquired from my friend why ambulances were coming from so far, he replied this has been happening since the emergency services were privatised.

I have several questions, the first of which is who was the genius who deci­ded to privatise emergency services and why? To make emergency services a for-profit industry is to put the entire nation at risk because that company will cut corners to ensure maximum profits, not to ensure the safety of citizens.

Who was awarded this contract and for how much? Was it a competitive bidding process or the usual sole source that governments like to award for their friends and financiers? What are the technical requirements of the contracts? In other words, how many ambulances and stations were required based on population and geographical size? How many employees were required and what was the response times required in the statement of work? Finally, why aren’t Trinbagonians asking these questions? It is their lives at stake. It is not as if they are unaware of the problem.

The first thing anyone tells you when you say you are considering returning home is: make sure and keep your health insurance.

Gerard Johnson

I note, with some dispassion (as I am feeling very frustrated with the Rock at the moment), that things in the health sector show little signs of improvement for the past 40 years.

Boasting of the fancy infrastructure is hollow, when the systems are unchanged and just as ineffective.