Sands: More ambulances unlikely soon
While empathizing with the family of a teenager who collapsed and died over the weekend, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands yesterday suggested that it is unlikely there will be an increase in the number of ambulances in New Providence anytime soon.
Robert Valcom Jr., a 15-year-old student of S.C. McPherson Junior High School, did not have any known health issues when he died on Saturday, according to his family.
The teenager’s family has blamed a delayed ambulance response time for the death of Robert and is calling on the government to increase the number of ambulances in New Providence.
Sands said the dispatch of an ambulance was delayed by 13 minutes on Saturday.
“…My heart goes out to this family,” he said.
“Whether or not that 13 minutes would’ve changed the outcome, we will never know, but certainly I am sure for a grieving parent and a grieving family that question is one that sticks in their heart and in their head.
“So, we have to offer our sincerest condolences that circumstances prevented us for bona fide reasons to be able to respond for 13 minutes.”
The minister said the emergency vehicle which was called for Robert took four minutes longer than the average response time.
“The call was received at 2:10 p.m.,” Sands said.
“An ambulance was dispatched at 2:23 p.m. It took 12 minutes to arrive to the scene and was on the scene in 25 minutes which is four minutes longer than our average response time.”
The public sector only has five ambulances on call during the day and four on call at night, according to Sands.
He said international standards mandate that there is one ambulance per 20,000 people.
The minister said the government is aiming “ultimately to have, at least during peak periods, as many as eight or 10, perhaps as many as 12, ambulances on the road at any given time”.
When asked how soon the public can expect an increase in the emergency vehicles on the road, Sands said, “That is something that given the staffing and equipment and supply implications, we don’t have the foreseeable budgetary headroom and that’s just New Providence…when you start talking about Grand Bahama, Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera, Exuma.
“So we as a country, we have to have goals. We’d like to meet these goals eventually but I think we have to be honest and responsible about how we can possibly get there.”