Ministry of Health defends EMT’s response time to Fig Tree Drive fall, while residents suggest improvements to service

The death of Jamoya Browne, the 28-year-old man who succumbed to his injuries one week after falling off a truck in the Fig Tree Drive area on August 5, has sparked some controversy about the response time of the ambulance that transported him to the hospital.

During an interview, Browne’s mother had indicated that her son had been met by the ambulance near Townhouse Megastore while he was being taken to the hospital.

Since it was taking some time for the ambulance to arrive at the scene of the accident, she said, the truck driver and other coworkers took the decision to transport the injured man themselves

The Ministry of Health is now refuting accusations that the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was tardy in its response.

In a press release, it says it has investigated the news reports published by various media houses, and has determined that the EMS received the call via the Public Safety Network (911) at 3:52 p.m.

Reportedly, when the call came in, the two ambulances and the Rapid Response Unit that was on shift at the time were all out in the field attending to other emergencies.

“Once those calls were completed, the first available ambulance responded immediately to the scene of the accident at 4:08 p.m.,” the release says.

That ambulance, according to Ministry officials, intercepted the vehicle transporting the patient at 4:11 p.m. on the All Saints Road. He was transferred to the emergency vehicle and the necessary interventions were made by the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).

The ambulance then left four minutes later, at 4:15 p.m., and Browne was handed over to the hospital’s Emergency Room at 4:19 p.m., the Ministry reports.

According to officials, “the length of time from receiving the call from the Public Safety Network (911) to the patient being handed over to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre was 26 minutes.”

This timeframe is considered to be acceptable by international standards, the Ministry of Health says.

Meanwhile, some members of the public are responding to the press statement with anger, saying the Ministry is trying to cover for itself.

Some say the time frame, despite being consistent with international standards, was still too long, and they are asking whether the ambulance stopped at the traffic lights.

Pointing out that All Saints is a very central location in Antigua, others believe that an ambulance and EMTs should be stationed there 24/7 – in addition to a fire truck – to serve the village and surrounding communities.

Many residents were appalled to learn that the country appears to have only two ambulances and the Rapid Response Unit to service a 108-square mile island.

“It’s not good enough. The ambulance situation brings to mind the position in which the Fire Department recently found itself,” a retired nurse tells REAL News.

“The man’s co-workers meant well; but suppose they had done more damage by lifting and transporting him? Ordinary people are not trained for these things and should not have to make what could be life-or-death decisions,” she says.

Therefore, she is asking residents to demand more ambulances and the personnel to staff them from Sir Molwyn Joseph, the Minister of Health, and the Browne Administration.