Ambulance a write-off in crash

Health Service Authority administrators say ambulance services on Grand Cayman won’t be affected despite one of the island’s three ambulances being written off in a crash in Savannah Sunday morning.

It is thought the ambulance was travelling west on Shamrock Rd. with its lights and sirens on when it collided with a Regal Buick and then careered into a vacant building in the vicinity of the Savannah Texaco gas station at around 10am.

Two paramedics and the elderly driver of a Regal Buick were hurt in the collision; however a patient travelling in the back of the ambulance escaped injury. The paramedics were treated at the Cayman Islands Hospital and later released, while the Buick driver remains in a stable condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

HSA Medical Director Dr. Greg Hoeksema said ambulance services will not be compromised by the loss of the vehicle. He said an older back-up vehicle, purchased in 1998, will be outfitted to provide full emergency response services while the HSA works to obtain a replacement vehicle.

Health Minister Anthony Eden wad due to discuss additional funding for a replacement vehicle with his cabinet colleagues Tuesday

‘Recognising the critical role of our emergency response in saving lives within the ‘critical hour’, it is important that our response capabilities remain robust and the Minister of Health has given his support in our efforts to obtain a replacement in the shortest possible time frame to ensure optimal resources are available to meet the medical needs of our community,’ he said.

‘Emergency response times across the island will remain well within safe standards as the service will still have the capability to respond with units stationed at District Health Centres in West Bay, North Side and the Cayman Islands Hospital,’ Mr. Hoeksema said.

Ageing ambulances

Concern about the state of Grand Cayman’s ambulances was raised during a Finance Committee meeting in the Legislative Assembly 2 June.

North Side MLA Edna Moyle said she had become concerned about the state of Cayman’s ambulances after seeing the vehicle that usually covers the eastern districts broken down on the side of the road in Breakers earlier this year.

‘I was told that this ambulance has over 142,000 miles on the dash,’ she said.

HSA Acting CEO Lizzette Yearwood told the house that international safety regulations say the useful life of ambulances should be no more than 120,000 miles or five years. But with a new ambulance costing upward of $250,000, the authority doesn’t have the money to replace the vehicles that regularly, she said.

‘This is an area of growing concern for us at the Health Services Authority,’ Ms Yearwood noted. ‘The problems that we face with ambulances are similar to that of the other capital equipment. We don’t have the cash up front in order to be able to fund some of these big capital items.’

Health Minister Anthony Eden described it as an unfortunate situation and said ‘from day one, proper funding for the health services has never been put in place.’