Management of the Antigua Barbuda Emergency Medical Services (ABEMS) has become aware of concerns in the public regarding the use of an Ambulance which was designated as the Infectious Control Unit (ICU) to transport suspected Covid-19 cases being used to transport non-suspected Covid-19 patients.
ABEMS Management is giving the assurance that all provisions have been made to ensure that both the Emergency Medical Technicians and the patients being transported and treated by the EMTs are protected.
The ABEMS remains committed to providing the best pre-hospital care to citizens and residents in Antigua and Barbuda in a timely manner.
The ICU being used to transport non-suspected Covid-19 patients is not the general practice of the ABEMS. This situation only occurs if there is a backlog of calls and it becomes absolutely necessary in order to provide care in a timely manner to patients who may be critically ill. The ICU being dispatched to transport such cases must first be authorized by Management before being dispatched.
Further, the ABEMS is one of the only countries in the world affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to have a dedicated ambulance to transport suspected cases. In other countries, the same ambulance which transports suspected cases also transports non-suspected cases.
Here in Antigua and Barbuda, there have also been occurrences where the regular response units are dispatched to calls of persons who do not exhibit Covid-19 symptoms, who later, upon arrival at the hospital, test positive for Covid-19.
Nonetheless, the ABEMS ensures that all ambulances used on the shift, including the ICU, are sanitized between each call to reduce the chance of transmitting the virus between patients.
In addition, all patients, whether they are exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms or not, are required to wear their masks while on the ambulance unless they are being treated for respiratory distress.
ABEMS Management also ensures that the EMT’s are properly equipped with Personal Protective Equipment in order to carry out their duties efficiently with minimal chance of transmitting the virus. As a result, to date, no EMT has tested positive for Covid-19 even after coming into contact with individuals who test positive on a daily basis, even on the regular response units.
Management wishes to use this opportunity to thank the dedicated Emergency Medical Technicians who continue to carry out their duties efficiently during this difficult period. We look forward to continuing to serve the people of Antigua and Barbuda. We are all in this together!