Thu | Mar 30, 2023

Tufton: Violence could render more inadequacies on emergency fleet

Published:Saturday | January 7, 2023 | 1:09 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


HEALTH AND WELLNESS Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has expressed fears that the country's fleet of medical emergency vehicles could become even more inadequate to respond to the needs of Jamaicans, given the culture of crime and domestic violence.

“These four pieces of infrastructure will save lives and it is going to save the lives of those who are disciplined and unfortunately, those who are undisciplined,” Tufton said while speaking at a handing over ceremony of four new ambulances, valued at $48 million, to the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) on Friday.

“It is going to save the lives of those who are engaged in unnecessary aggression, domestic violence, trauma, and those who are innocent people who happen to have a particular emergency,” the health minister reasoned.

At the same time, Tufton revealed that there are 14 ambulances to be written off as not suitable for emergency service.

Prior to now, the WRHA comprising four hospitals, including the Type A Cornwall Regional Hospital, and 84 health centres across the parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland, were operating with 18 ambulances. This fleet was inadequate to effectively serve the people of the region.

With the four additional ambulances, the region now has 22, a fleet Tufton acknowledged was still insufficient to meet the needs of the region. He said that steps will be made to further increase the fleet starting in the next fiscal year, which commences on April 1, 2023.

“We have these and we are happy for them, but they are not going to be enough if we do not respond in a more holistic way to the culture,” he noted.

With road fatalities closing the year at 488 in 2022, one more than the 487 recorded in 2021, Tufton encouraged motorists and commuters to use the roads with care to save lives and the heavy reliance on ambulances to respond to accidents.

Western Jamaica recorded 152 of those road fatalities, with St James and Westmoreland having 48 and 47, respectively.