'Return our ambulance!'
Claudia Gardner, Gleaner Writer
The planned permanent redeployment of one of two ambulances, procured by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at the Negril Fire Station, has not gone down well with members of the Negril Resort Board.
During the recent monthly meeting of the board, members, including councillor of the Negril division and Savanna-la-Mar mayor, Bertel Moore, called for immediate action to be taken to notify the TEF, to prevent the relocation of the ambulance. Their request came after board chairman Cliff Reynolds was told by a representative of the Negril Fire Station that one of the ambulances which was recently damaged after it overturned in an accident had been transferred to Kingston.
"Mr Chairman, let me just ask a question. You are talking about the last ambulance that was down here? I had discussions with the commissioner (Jamaica Fire Brigade) and this is where he and I are having a little loggerhead business together. Because I have discussions with him and TEF is supposed to spend the money to repair the ambulance, and he is trying to tell me that we will not have the two ambulances in Negril when it is repaired.
"And I told him, 'Ova mi dead baddy'. The ambulance will have to stay, because that's why I work hard to get a second ambulance for Negril. And I don't want him tell me dat," Moore stated.
The town of Negril straddles the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover and hosts 26 per cent of visitors to the island annually. The Negril EMS also provides support to the Lucea EMS for trauma calls within the Negril to Orange Bay stretch of the main roadway which links the two towns.
Between January and October 2014, the Negril EMS responded to 844 emergency medical calls, including numerous traffic accidents. In 2012, the Lucea and Negril EMS centres combined, responded to 69 per cent of the 603 trauma cases to which the nation's six EMS centres were made aware, as well as 58 per cent of 473 motor vehicle accidents, 42 per cent of the obstetrics cases and 42 per cent of medical calls, which totalled 1,574. Last year, Negril also responded to 154 motorcycle accidents, as well as 175 in 2013 and 127 in 2012.
'Leave the ambulance in Negril'
Also coming out in support of Moore during the meeting was immediate past president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Evelyn Smith, who was in attendance.
"In light of what Mayor Moore has just said, I would suggest that the resort board write a letter to the Tourism Enhancement Fund - because the TEF would have been very aware of the ambulance having turned over, and it would indeed have been a great disappointment after money had been spent. I think the TEF may jolly well want to push to ensure that the ambulance stays in Negril," Smith said.
"Because I doubt they (TEF) are aware of what is happening with that ambulance. They just know it's in need of repairs, so I think that information needs to be urgently communicated to the Tourism Enhancement Fund so they can advise that that is where it has to go, and that is back to Negril," she added.
One resort board member, retired intensive care nurse Elaine Bradley, also expressed concern that the ambulances were not being driven with care, as the ambulance in question was the second to have been seriously damaged within a relatively short period of time.
"On that note of the ambulance, Mr Chairman, is somebody going to be accountable to make sure these ambulances don't get smashed up as they come into the community? That brand new one was smashed up after less than a year, so we need some accountability please," she told Reynolds.