Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Zebalon McLean said in an interview with BVI News that this steady growth in medical emergencies has been happening over the last few years and the COVID-19 pandemic has now raised issues in responding to these emergencies.
“We operate the ambulance service in Virgin Gorda. We are the sole entity that operates it there. In Tortola, however, we have not moved to that stage yet. What we are hoping in the future is to have all our fire officers become certified EMTs and operate an ambulance out of each station which would greatly assist the BVI Health Services Authority in responding to calls, stabilising and transporting them to the main medical centres,” McLean said.
The CFO also explained how the pandemic has altered the method of operation for the fire department in responding to emergencies in the territory.
“Because of COVID-19, we have to spread our personnel out in the headquarters. We have to be creative with the shift system in the outstations in Anegada, Virgin Gorda, East End, West End and Jost Van Dyke because of COVID and the threat of contracting COVID,” he added.
McLean is also expecting more cases of medical emergencies with the festive season fast approaching.
According to the CFO, whenever there is an event that stretches over a series of days — like festivals, or during the Christmas season — there is an increase in revelry.
He said there is, therefore, more traffic on the road and consumption of alcohol at these events increase the likelihood of incidents and subsequent injuries.
The CFO is urging residents to be vigilant in protecting themselves and also looking out for their neighbours in the case of an emergency.