Health Ministry Acquires New Ambulances


Thirty new ambulances have arrived in the island, 24 of which have already been distributed to health facilities across the country.
The acquisition of the emergency vehicles is part of preparations being made by the Ministry of Health for the staging of the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007.
Director of Emergency, Disaster Management, and Special Services in the Ministry, Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse, informed JIS News that another shipment of 10 ambulances is expected to arrive from a Mercedes Benz factory in Argentina later this month.
Noting that the ambulances were being distributed according to need, Dr. Bullock Ducasse said, “We are also ensuring that ambulances are assigned to the stadia [Sabina Park and the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium] and are available for replacement if they are deployed.”
The Ministry has put in place several mechanisms to ensure that the vehicles, which cost US$2 million, will be properly maintained.
One such initiative is the training of all drivers. Dr. Bullock-Ducasse stated that the drivers have been trained as emergency motor vehicle operators. “They have undergone a week-long course where they are actually trained in how to use the ambulance and how to drive it in a way that the patient is delivered safely,” she pointed out.
“They are trained in how to use all the equipment in the ambulances, defensive driving techniques and also simple areas in terms of how to keep the ambulances on the road,” Dr. Bullock Ducasse elaborated.
The drivers have also been exposed to one-day training sessions by the suppliers of the vehicles, in which they were taught in more detail about how the ambulances operate.
More importantly, said Dr. Bullock Ducasse, the Ministry is implementing a new system of maintenance and as such, drivers have been trained in this area.
“Where vehicles will be taken out for a particular period and serviced, records will have to be kept in terms of the actual runs that they make as well as the maintenance that is done,” she explained, while adding that the ambulances were procured with a three-year maintenance contract.
“It will become the norm in the system where all the documentation is maintained and the ambulances are taken out. We have bought reserve ambulances in the fleet so that when a vehicle is taken out for servicing another one replaces it so there is no down time at the facility,” the Director continued.
In terms of some of the equipment and supplies in the vehicles, there is a handover at the change of each shift. “We are ensuring that not only vehicle and the mechanics are alright but also the medical aspects of the vehicle,” Dr. Bullock Ducasse noted.
She also said that the Ministry was using the CWC, as “a good marker or point in time” to make sure that the new system was in place. The system, she said, would continue long after the event.
The Ministry’s fleet of drivers is also trained as emergency medical technicians. Some are also trained as medical first responders.

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