St. John’s Antigua- Investigations into the alleged tardiness of personnel from Emergency Medical Services (EMS) who were called to transport an 86-year-old woman to Mount St John’s Medical Centre have so far cleared the suspended technicians of deliberate wrongdoing.
A source close to the probe told OBSERER Media two ambulance teams were on duty the morning in question and could not respond to the call immediately as they were out on other emergencies.
The woman, who subsequently died, had complained of feeling unwell while at Dr Jason Belizaire’s clinic at Woods Mall. After administering oxygen the doctor called 911.
“In one case the patient was another elderly woman who had become unresponsive. There were two medics on that ambulance. One was the driver and the other was in the back with the patient as they were returning to St John’s from Freetown,” the source said.
According to the official, the second team was out on emergency for an incident on the southern side of the island.
“When the second team, with three technicians, returned to the hospital they got a call from the first team that needed assistance to resuscitate and stabilize that elderly patient. They left to meet them on the way and it was then that Dr Belizaire’s office made the first 911 call,” the source said.
The source said the decision had to be made and the emergency technicians decided to continue the journey to meet the other team with the unresponsive patient.
“There was one patient who is unresponsive and another, who has breathing problems but is at a clinic in the care of a professional, a doctor. The logical and right thing was to attend to the patient who needed medical attention more urgently. In my view, that was done. So, it’s a watch and wait situation as to when the suspension would be lifted,” the source said.
Continuing to speak on condition of anonymity, the source said when the two ambulances met, a technician from the second team joined the first team and that ambulance (the second team) returned to St John’s to respond to another emergency call.
It was said that an employee at a statutory corporation had collapsed at work, appeared unconscious and was frothing at the mouth.
“Again, a decision had to be made and the patient at that workplace, who had no medical assistance, needed the ambulance more than the patient who was on oxygen and in the care of a doctor,” the source said.
“It might sound like a cruel and deliberate thing, but it was far from that. When those decisions have to be made they are made based on need and not emotions and how families would feel. Decisions are made based on medical analysis or assessment of the situation,” the source added.
Dr Belizaire confirmed his office made more than one call to 911 and the calls were made at approximately 45 minutes apart.
He also admitted the elderly woman was on oxygen but by the time the ambulance arrived she had passed away.
Late last month Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Edson Joseph reassured residents there are sufficient ambulances to serve the needs of the nation.
He had noted that five of 10 ambulances were available to serve the populace. The other five were down for repair following road accidents.
The source said there are also two ambulances, fully equipped, for use by the supervisors. One supervisor was on duty the day the woman died.