Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Accident grounds Negril’s only public ambulance

Published:Saturday | March 25, 2023 | 12:43 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

Stakeholders in the resort town of Negril, which spans both Hanover and Westmoreland, are now in a heightened state of concern as the town’s only public ambulance, which is assigned to the town’s fire service, was extensively damaged in an accident on Thursday and is now out of service.

Well-known hotelier Sophia Grizzle-Roumel, a long-serving director of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, said she was extremely saddened by the news, which has left the town, which welcomes thousands of tourists annually, somewhat vulnerable as it relates to health services.

“I am very sad and disappointed. Every time we get an ambulance, it either breaks down or meets in an accident,” said Grizzle-Roumel, who also serves as the honorary French consul to Jamaica. “This has been happening over the years so you can understand how disappointed we all are.”

Grizzle believes the current situation brings into focus the need for the renewal of the call for Negril to have more than one public ambulance at the Negril Fire Department. However, she admitted that, if the fire station is to house more than one unit it would require the creation of additional space there.

“We need more than one ambulance so that, in a situation like this where one is involved in an accident, we would have a replacement. However, for that to happen, the fire station would have to be retrofitted to house more than one unit.”

The ambulance, which was given to the Negril Fire Brigade by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) in 2019, was regularly used to transport people who required ambulance service to the Savanna-la-Mar hospital in Westmoreland, and the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover.

Regarding Thursday’s accident, district officer Ralstan Simms of the Negril Fire Department said that the ambulance was transporting an individual to hospital when it was involved in a collision with another vehicle.

“At about 6:15 p.m., the ambulance was transporting a passenger to the Savanna-la-Mar hospital when the driver collided with a Mitsubishi Colt along the Mango Hall main road. Three crew members received minor injuries. The passenger and the driver of the Mitsubishi Colt were both hospitalised in stable conditions.”

According to Simms, the individual, who was being transported to the hospital, had fallen from a tree and was being rushed to the hospital suffering from serious injuries. Although he sustained additional injuries, his condition is not considered life threatening.

Without the ambulance, Negril is left in a very bad situation as according to Simms, the fire station receives upwards of 60 calls for its ambulance service each month.

“This is a major blow to Negril and the surrounding area as on average, we receive 60 calls per month so without the ambulance, it will be a big loss,” said Simms. “This is a terrible thing for both Westmoreland and Hanover as we service both parishes.”