We think is very important to share this information with the general public of San Pedro and Caye Caulker residents so that they may adjust their medical emergency plans if the need ever arises.
"Residents of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye have expressed concerns following reports that they will have to find an alternative method to get patients off the island during an emergency.
Jorge Aldana reporting...
"When you live on an island with limited medical facilities, it is imperative for its residents to know what to do in times of a medical emergency. For the island residents who have faced a night medical emergency in the past, they were normally transported via the British Army Training Support Unit of Belize (BATSUB). But Love News learnt on Tuesday that BATSUB had cancelled civil emergency evacuations for the entire country including the islands of San Pedro and Caye Caulker. BATSUB Press Officer Major Sean Ryan confirmed that indeed emergency air evacuation has been cancelled. Major Ryan explained that several conditions contributed to BATSUB’s pulling off their emergency air evacuation. Ryan stated that with the unavailability of pilots and having to overhaul their choppers, they had no other option but to cancel the emergency evacuation. He could not state for how long such services would be cancelled, but even after the choppers are overhauled, BATSUB still will have a shortage of available pilots and will be unable to offer the service on a 24 hour basis. So what does this mean for the over 12 thousand plus residents on Ambergris Caye? Doctor Javier Zuniga of the San Pedro Poly Clinic stated that its spells “serious problems.” According to Dr. Zuniga, history has shown that most of the medical emergencies that require further medical attention on the island happen at night. Zuniga also explained that in the past, patients that would require transportation would be evacuated via BATSUB and arrangement would have been done through the Poly Clinic. Zuniga explained to Love News that with the cancellation of BATSUB’s emergency air evacuation, the Poly Clinic will only make arrangements for transportation for daytime medical emergency evacuation via the Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT). So what will happen to a night patient should they requiring further medical attention off the island? Zuniga explained that, unfortunately transportation arrangement in such cases will fall squarely on the family of the patients. He said that while it is not the most practical and realistic approach, it’s the only thing the management of the Poly Clinic can do until a proper arrangement can be made. Zuniga cautioned however that the situation “needs to be dealt with extreme urgency,” especial considering that the island is the prime tourism destination in Belize. He stated that he will be meeting with the NEMO representative on the island to get all possible emergency numbers. He is also calling on both the Mayor of San Pedro Elsa Paz and the Area Representative as the elected representative to treat the matter with urgency and come up with a plan of action for the island before such an emergency situation arise. For his part, Area Representative and Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture Manuel “Junior” Heredia told Love News late on Tuesday evening that he was unaware of the decision taken by BATSUB. He stated however that since the matter is considered of extreme importance, he will be following up with the relative authorities to come up with a plan. Heredia also stated that he will be taking the issue to Cabinet in the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday August 24th and promised to informed the public about a more practical and realistic plan. Until a quick and practical alternative is worked out, Dr. Zuniga is advising residents to have a medical evacuation plan should the need arise. Astrum Helicopter, Tropic Air and Maya Island Air offers night emergency air evacuation off the island on a private charter bases and residents are asked to get their emergency contact number. Prices for night private charters are not standard and include charges by the Belize Airport Authority. It is also advised that resident find out from the various water taxies if they offer similar services and if they do, then get an emergency number.”
We should remember to plan for emergencies in advance, don't wait for something tragic to happen before you decide what you will do.
Start Making your Medical Emergency Plans Today!