Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Ambulance emergency - JHTA calls for better service for locals, guests

Published:Thursday | February 27, 2020 | 12:21 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


The western chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s (JHTA) is calling for improved ambulance service for local residents albeit admitting that there is no policy in place to have ambulances on-site at hotels for visitors in cases of emergency.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Robin Russell, chairman of the JHTA’s Montego Bay chapter, said that the need for better ambulance services has not changed since the issue was highlighted last November.

“The last I heard, they were assessing whether to purchase or lease ambulances, but there are so many different sets of ambulances such as those which don’t need extra equipment for transporting patients. Some resources can be put into an ambulance service because not everybody can take up J$40,000 to pay for an ambulance to carry you where you need to be,” said Russell in reference to the prohibitive cost.

“The general public and people who work in resort areas need a proper health system. The services we use (at the hotels) are private ambulance services, which are expensive, but we’ve never called a private service and had an issue. But if you expect the Cornwall Regional Hospital (in Montego Bay) or a fire-service ambulance to come, you’re in problems,” explained Russell.

Last November, JHTA President Omar Robinson suggested that ambulance services could be linked with other emergency-service providers for locals and visitors.

“What we want is ambulance services that are readily available for everybody, citizens, and visitors, so that when you call, the service can come. Negril had a system where the ambulance service was linked to the fire service, and anybody, whether citizens or visitors, could call,” Robinson told The Gleaner.

“Ambulances are not at the hotels unless the properties decide to house them there, but it is not part of the hotels’ responsibility to keep the ambulances there. The only requirement is to have a nurses’ station for hotels with over 100 rooms,” Robinson added.

The Western Regional Health Authority currently has a total of 18 ambulances to provide emergency transportation services across the parishes of Westmoreland, Hanover, St James, and Trelawny. This does not include ambulances employed by private medical service facilities.