Saturday, June 3, 2023

EMTs Call in Sick Amidst COVID-19 Crisis

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Technicians plead for health insurance as they risk infection

Emergency Medical Technicians across the Bahamas are staging a ‘sickout’ today, crying for health insurance coverage, amidst COVID19 surge in the country.

An EMT who wanted to remain anonymous said technicians lack health insurance and have since withdrawn their services as promises for coverage were not met by Minister of Health Duane Sands.

“Dr. Duane Sands told us by Wednesday or Thursday he would have some documents signed up so that we would be covered for the insurance. But as of today, we haven’t heard anything from him. They don’t even recognise us as EMT. Just how the nurses and doctors go to school to get their license, we have license.

“Without us how would the patient get to the hospital stable. We have been running these COVID19 calls and calls are increasing. We are going into these houses where people are positive and we don’t have coverage. Something happen to the police, defense force or nurses, they are covered, we are not covered,” he said.

According to the anonymous EMT, since the ‘sickout’ began on Friday, more than half of the staff stayed at home.

He added that the ‘sickout’ began on Friday evening with only one team calling in for duty, and staff have since been supplemented with Red Cross volunteers.

“They got about two of the Red Cross volunteers to ride along with EMS staff. They don’t have any license. But they just riding along, and going out there to the public. Imagine one of them coming in your house, coming for a sick relative. They don’t know how to take off the infected clothes.”

The technician said due to the ‘sickout,’ three ambulances are on duty–one unit of EMTs and the other two units comprise of Red Cross volunteers.

He said emergency medical technicians risk carrying the disease home to their families as there is no proper place to put on and take off the protective gears, since gears can become contaminated with the virus.

“Once you finish these COVID19 calls, there is no where to sanitize properly and no where to shower. The same clothes you work in all day, you go home to your family.

“They are suppose to give us scrubs. We are still waiting on the scrubs,” he said.

The technician added that Bahamas Public Service Union President Kingsley Ferguson have made their concerns known to Dr. Sands and is awaiting his response.

He said EMTs across the country will remain on ‘sick out’ until Dr. Sands addresses their concerns.

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