Regional

Reynolds calls for proper management of Negril ambulance

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

Thursday, June 12, 2014    

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NEGRIL, Westmoreland — NEWLY re-elected chairman of the Negril Resort Board, Cliff Reynolds, has called for proper management and accountability of the use of ambulances assigned to the Negril Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to serve the resort town.

"What I think is that nobody is accountable when you have these kinds of careless accidents and they hold nobody accountable. Until they start to hold people accountable, they will be more careful and take care of the vehicle as if it is their own private vehicle," Reynolds argued.

The chairman's call came in the wake of a joint decision by the Negril Resort Board, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Negril Chamber of Commerce to lobby the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) for assistance in securing another ambulance for the Negril community. The decision was taken on Thursday during June's Biennial General Meeting.

Negril is presently without a working ambulance following an accident in Westmoreland in which the unit assigned to the Negril EMS overturned over a month ago.

In 2010, the Negril Chamber of Commerce successfully lobbied the TEF for US$61,000 which was used to purchase an ambulance for the resort town.

At that time, the then chamber president, Carey Wallace, in thanking the TEF for the funds pointed out: "In recent years several ambulances that have been secured for the town have been wrecked."

Following the meeting last Thursday, Reynolds, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer West accused the EMS of having "a history of accidents" with ambulances secured and donated to the Negril EMS branch of the Westmorland Fire Department.

"We want to emphasise our serious concern of the EMS management of the ambulance. This is not even the first ambulance that was donated to them in this manner and just disappeared in the way they manage the thing. The previous one was overturned on the (Negril) boulevard. They have a history of doing these things which is not good," stated Reynolds, adding, "It is hard to keep asking for funds, getting the thing, putting it in their hands, and you lose the ambulance. Somebody has to be held accountable."

"There was even some years ago when the chamber lobbied for a fire truck and they let the thing run out of oil. How can you treat emergency vehicles like this? I think there needs to be a call for us to look into the persons who are managing these emergency services, and that is a serious concern that I have," Reynolds argued.

Four years ago, the TEF had mandated the Negril Chamber to take charge of the day-to-day maintenance of the ambulance.

Reynolds charged that even when the unit was in operation, the Negril community did not benefit much.

"There are often times when there is an emergency and we ask for an ambulance, it was never at the location where it was supposed to be parked in Negril," he charged.

"We are told different times that it is on call, but as to call to and from Negril, not all the time. It has been used in Savana-la-Mar and elsewhere," asserted Reynolds, the chairman of the Negril Resort Board who was re-elected at last Thursday's meeting for his second term in office.

But Divisional Head of the Westmoreland Fire Department Assistant Superintendent Dave Gouldbourne has dismissed Reynolds' claim.

He said the recent accident in which the ambulance was involved occurred as a result of trying to avoid a collision with a motorcycle. He explained that in doing so, the ambulance developed a skid and overturned.

"Those claims need to be dismissed. Why would the crew put their lives in danger to damage the ambulance? You as the driver for the ambulance have two crew members with you and sometimes a casualty (patient), so why would you be driving recklessly?" Gouldbourne questioned.

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