Man dies after being denied ambulance service, death blamed on strike (letter to the editor)

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Man dies after being denied ambulance service, death blamed on strike (letter to the editor)
Fire Service ambulances.
Fire Service ambulances.


Dear Editor:
I listened helplessly as my friend on the other end informed me of the death of his father. He was reporting that his father fell ill suddenly and had no pre-existing conditions that would prepare his family for this shock.

When he noticed his dad was gasping for breath, he did what all of us would do. He called the ambulance service. According to him, the telephone operator said there are ambulances, but no drivers. “Please!” he begged, but the response remained the same. He told the operator his father was dying. The operator replied, “I am sorry Sir, most of us are on strike.” He called for the neighbour’s help, placed his dad on the back seat of a car and transported him to the hospital. Upon arrival at the Victoria Hospital, he was given oxygen, but died moments after.

On Tuesday, a small group at my workplace was discussing the strike and I shared with them my friend’s experience. One of my co-workers reported that an elderly lady in the town of Vieux-Fort was also left stranded, after she appeared to have suffered a stroke or a seizure. Her daughter called for help. “I want an ambulance! My mother collapsed.” She was hysterical, as you would imagine. The response? “Sorry, but we are not in a position to respond to your call. The panic-stricken daughter repeated, “I want an ambulance. I really want an ambulance.” She says the response was, “Do you want to buy one? We have none for sale.”

How cold! How insensitive! How wicked! Who will stand for the citizens of this country?

What justification can there be for such behaviour and action? How is it that these officers can allow people to die and suffer even after the government and the same fire chief they have crucified have acted in the interest of national safety and security? For years the FSA (Fire Service Association) campaigned against the fire chief. There were a number of charges made by the Association. The allegations were noted and recommendations were made in a Commission of Inquiry. The Commission never suggested the removal of the fire chief.

The prime minister, in his wisdom, noted that for the situation to be addressed, he had to go further than what was stipulated in the report. The fire chief, having suffered the onslaught of insults and allegations, agreed that in the interest of peace and safety of our country and citizens, he would move. Why is it that those who paint themselves to be blameless and spotless in all of this confusion have refused to meet the other parties half way?

Since when did industrial action include letting your fellow brothers and sisters die? Where is the discipline in the Fire Service? Where is the love and care for our neighbours? No matter how unhappy we are, we have a basic responsibility to humanity. Given what is currently happening and the callous and insensitive response of the Fire Service Association, I call for more action from the government. We need to deal with the rogues in the Fire Service. This problem is deeper than what we see and hear in the news.

When I heard Mary Isaac and Julian Monrose say in the news that they will stand with the fire officers and mobilise and give them all of the support they need to strike, I asked, “Do these people know of the man who died half an hour after he was denied ambulance service?” Are they aware that their very lives are at risk because of the behaviour of some of these officers? Our leaders need to be careful what they endorse. All workers have rights and I respect that. However, there must be a point where your right to take action ends because of your responsibility to others.

The government played its part and has announced legislative reform and an expert review of the Fire Service. The fire chief played his part by agreeing to go on leave and being seconded to SLASPA thereafter. Where does that leave the Fire Service Association? What is their contribution to a solution? As far as I see it now, the FSA is contributing to a bigger problem. This is not the Middle East! No innocent citizen must die to satisfy the agenda of a few selfish, stubborn and indiscipline fire officers!

I call on the government to take action against the Fire Service Association for failing to dispense it’s duties to the public. No legislative amendment is needed to tell the FSA that citizens cannot be left to die while they fight personal payback battles. This is unacceptable and heartless. Somebody needs to stand up for the helpless citizens of Saint Lucia.

Yours sincerely,
SM 

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91 COMMENTS

  1. I hope now you all come to realize how important our Fire Men & Women are to this country. When you're at war for a cause there will be casualties. Let us Love & respect our fire personal and give them what is due to them.

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  2. I read the article thoroughly and carefully, and what stands prominent is the fact that they're all PLAYING a part, none is DOING anything. This is the norm in St. Lucia, "everyone must play their part", I am not a "player" and I have never "played", I'm a WORKER, I WORK. Therefore, we're shit out of luck, with these players, and I'm not the least bit surprised with any, when it's stated that they play a part. So before we argue, fuss and fight, let's get our grammar right.

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  3. Lubby, when people like you talk i ask myself, why do you think your support is so important to anybody. If your identity is revealed it may very well show that you are one of the worst employee one can employ. Are you even employed?

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  4. I DON'T UNDERSTAND ALL OF THAT POLITITICS,BUT ONE THING IS VERY CLEAR IS THAT FIREFIGHTERS HEATHCARE WORKERS,POLICE OFFICERS ARE "PUBLIC SERVANTS" -THAT MEANS SERVING THE COMMUNITY.IT SEEMS LIKE LIVES ARE AT RISK IN THE NAME OF MONEY.
    WHERE IS THE PRIME MINISTER/ WHAT IS HIS ROLE IN THIS MESS? THERE SHOULD BE A SKELETON STAFF FOR EMERGENCIES.
    SERIOUSLY ? THAT IS INSANE WITH WHAT IS GOING ON.THESE BIG DOGS WILL BE FLYING OUT OF THE COUNTRY WHEN THEY'RE SICK,SO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ONES THAT CANNOT FLY/

    MR PM SHAME ON YOU,YOU HAVE NO BACKBONE AND IS A WIMP. MAKE A DECISION YOU FOOL!

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  5. Well! Well! Well! Only when the matter hits close to home and there is loss of life we cry out but we are never empathetic to the cries and plight of the fire officers for all those years; the government has not been gravely concerned about the plight of the fire officers and their families but you show support to them because you say the "your friends father" and "a lady in Vieux - Fort" was not given attention because the officers were on strike. What is the proof that this actually took place? This may just be another ploy of a party hack to give bad press to the officers standing for their rights. With this government there is so much corruption and veiling of the truth one hardly knows what to believe; I am tired of all this deception and manipulation, please people let us start thinking clearly and really ask God as a people to intervene in the affairs of this land before our country becomes completely submerged and we cannot keep afloat again.

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  6. The contingency plans the government had was only for the airports, guess the citizens of this country are second class. I would blame both parties, if I am at work I am not on strike. I would go and transport the individual to the Hospital even if I was alone. I also think the Government has to take it share of blame also for allowing the situation to escalate to that level. Kenny has taken a new approach of divide the nation when he is challenged he so call addresses the supporters of SLP to cause them to hate Civil servants, firemen or any one who challenges him. This is so sad. He must be BLAMED ALSO.

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  7. I am empathetic to the concerns of the members of the st lucia fire service and i think that they deserve to be heard, however we must place this in the context of the loss of human lives. When any machine breaks down we can place it on hold and return to it at a more importuned time to fix it, it is not the same for us humans. This being said I believe that health emergency services should be separate from Fire services, this will not fix our problem in totality but we will move away from the proverbial (all eggs in one basket) situation.

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  8. The FSA has been agitating for years. They finally got the COI. Then --- nada. The agitating for the implementation started again. And again... nada. They took the cause to the media... nada.

    Action came --- when they took action.

    I am sorry folks died.
    Considering the state of the Ambulance Service we will never be sure if they could have been saved. Remember the lady who collapsed in New Village? 1 Ambulance and it was already on a run.

    What was unacceptable was the way dispatch handled the calls. That was cold, heartless and uncalled for.

    If GOSL had sat down with the FSA when asked to and not come on TV to say doh tell me what to do... all this could have been avoided.

    And yes... there are procedures for this.
    Last time the FSA when on strike - firemen came from SVG to work at HIA and GFLC was closed. LIAT had to land at V/fort.

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  9. Wish John Compton was there they wouldn't do dat shit. N for those of us who agree it's only because it wasn't our family c how our reaction would have been if it were us.

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  10. We must realize that its time we fight for our rights... I agree with the fire men and women. To often we st. Lucian's sit at home complain about stuff and when its time to speak out in The right forum we hide... We are afraid... Its unfortunate that someone died but we all need to stand firm... Kenny and his band must understand that we are the ones who employed they... I see The bitter days are here...

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  11. in the last days men shall become lovers of themselves. just shows we do the job only for the pay not
    for the love of humanity

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