|New ambulance to serve Ambergris
It has been a long time coming but it would
appear emergency ambulance services will soon be a reality for residents and
visitors in San Pedro Town. Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of a few
dedicated individuals, the island will shortly be able to boast reliable "first
response" to emergencies involving situations such as drowning, heart attack,
traffic accident and burn victims.
According to Dr. Jeff
Sersland of the Medical University of the Americas (MUA) this project has been
in the making for over eighteen months. Presenting the initial concept to Dr.
Sersland was local resident (living abroad) Eddie Halliday Jr. At that time, Mr.
Halliday and the doctor discussed establishing a non-government organization to
be named "Better Equipped Physicians for a Healthier Community" to assist the
island's doctors and address emergency response health care needs.
Initial fundraising efforts to support the project
were not as profitable as originally hoped, but now, with the assistance of
several local businesses and organizations, the first ambulance has arrived on
Ambergris Caye. Dr. Sersland gave credit to Senator Barry Bowen who facilitated
the purchase of the $42,000 vehicle through Belize Estates, an automobile
dealership on the Belize mainland. "Much recognition and appreciation must also
be given to Caribe Island Resort, The Villas at Banyan Bay, Banana Beach Resort,
the Belize Bank and the San Pedro Lions Club for their valuable contributions to
this project. Although they have given significant assistance, additional
support is needed to provide the necessary staff and supplies needed to run the
Dr. Sersland told The
San Pedro Sun the new ambulance service will be called San
Pedro Emergency Rescue Service. He explained that MUA will handle the operations
of the service under the guidelines of a management plan established by a
committee consisting of San Pedro health care workers, MUA faculty and student
representatives, a San Pedro Lions Club representative and other significant
members who can contribute their time to this worthwhile project.
According to Dr. Sersland, the short-term goals of the
San Pedro Emergency Rescue Service, hopefully within 30 days, are to establish
an emergency contact number and begin functioning as a 24-hour service. The
ambulance will be manned by Andrew Remuzzi, an instructor with advanced life
support certification and former emergency medical technician (EMT), and three
other staff members. Plans are that a local guide, either a taxi driver or tour
guide will also assist with the driving for the service in order to ensure the
rapid location of an emergency caller.
Not fully equipped as yet, the island's new ambulance presently contains two
stretchers, and oxygen and IV (intravenous) supplies. It is equipped with a PA
(public address) system, warning/alert siren and will contain a citizen's band
radio. Physicians are being contacted for their interest in participating in the
service and will be provided pagers for quick response. "We are also hoping to
equip the ambulance very soon with a defibrillator (used to stop irregular heart
rhythms) and basic emergency pharmaceuticals," added Dr. Sersland.
Dr. Sersland explained that discussions are underway to
provide a two to three-bed immediate care facility to complement the new
service, located either at MUA, at the San Pedro Lions Clinic or its
inter-community hospital when finished. He said plans are to involve MUA
students and train police, firefighters and other interested members of the
public in all types of emergency response skills from basic first aid to
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Free training will begin at MUA this
semester and anyone wishing to participate may call the school to register.
Long term plans for the SP Emergency Rescue Service
include implementing a minimal fee to meet the costs of maintaining this
service. Already a number of hotels and resorts have expressed their interest in
assisting this valuable addition to the emergency health care needs of the
island. Anyone needing more information or wishing to donate financially or make
other contributions may contact the Medical University of the Americas at
226-3744 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.