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In a biking ambulance made for 3

They are an embarrassment, says former Minister of Health Dr Jerome

Walcott –– these 13

three-wheeled ambulances just recently gifted to the Barbados Government

by the United Arab Emirates. Motorbikes that they are, with attached cramped

compartment, these donations we cannot help but admit are a step down

–– far down.

The tiny mobile bay will carry one patient on a stretcher and two medical

attendants at most; and God forbid if the pregnant patient gives birth on

the way to hospital –– a fear drivers of these auto-rickshaws in the city of

Bangalore, India, agonize in every day, as under such circumstances the mother

and newborn would be exposed to high risk of multiple infections.

Further, Senator Dr Walcott does not see these three-wheeler rickshaws

being swiftly and successfully manoeuvred as ambulances carrying any of our

critically sick or injured on the roads of Barbados, especially up streets like the

precipitous and winding Rendezvous Hill.

Nor do we see them being safely navigated on roadways like the expansive

and tricky Darcy Scott Roundabout in Warrens, St Michael.

But what does Minister of Health John Boyce have to say about all this?

Mr Boyce has “already commented on the matter”, he has been reported as

saying, and has “nothing further to add”. A pity! No one knows what he has

said before –– barring perhaps his Permanent Secretary Tennyson Springer

who has already had the vehicles cleared, and is now at the stage of deciding

how they will be allocated and distributed.

And, “training of officers” to operate these motorcycles cum trailers,

according to the permanent secretary, will depend on who was going to be

using them and what for. We imagine it would take a committee to help Mr

Springer resolve this who, to whom, how and where; and, God knows, we

might even require a task force to establish subsequent efficacy.

We appreciate Mr Boyce’s dilemma, though, given his experience in

matters of engineering and Transport and Works, which the Minister of

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade cannot exactly boast of and would therefore

put her at a disadvantage in discerning the impracticality and challenges of such

a gift as the United Arab Emirates would put in her hands.

We also empathize with Senator Maxine McClean. After all, schooled in

Christian principles and good social graces, the Minister of Foreign Affairs

would not be unmindful of the ethic that receiving gifts you would rather not

have, or are of little use to you, or which you hate ought still to be met with

gratitude ––for “it’s the thought that counts”.

No doubt about it, the gift of 13 motorbike ambulances were graciously

received and the government of the United Arab Emirates dutifully thanked.

After all, the UAE gave of what it possesses, having no clue of the higher

standard of our ambulance services –– which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

did not have the gumption to tell the emirs.

Do we have the shrewdness to deal with this awkward situation? For

starters, we could regift the ambulance tricycles. There is no harm done in

giving to others for their use a gift for which we really have none.

We might shore up the equal 13 that Antigua received from the United

Arab Emirates too, or the ten that Grenada got and seem happy to work with.

Or we could hand over all of ours to St Vincent. As we are advised, the

motorbike ambulances are ideal for marshy ground and places struck by

mudslides –– the present condition our flood-hit neighbour now suffers.

Not surprisingly, most of the Barbadian workers assembling the ambulances

are puzzled by the expected effectiveness of these three-wheeled vehicles in


On top of that, drivers, to stay within the law, will need to show

proficiency in navigating the 250 cc engine rickshaws and obtain the pursuant

motorcycle licence.

Clearly, the contraptions cannot be used for everyday emergencies. They

may serve limitedly the purpose of taking outpatients home from the Queen

Elizabeth Hospital or the polyclinic; or of accompanying athletes on marathon

runs or walks, or being stationed at games of cricket or football . . . .

But they hardly fit into our environment, space and culture –– not so easily

as in the likes of India, Nepal and Uganda; not remotely into the Barbadian

imageries of health care, emergency and hospital attendance.

It would raise a hearty laugh too if we did not give consideration to the

drivers of these things –– men, in whose hands the safety and lives of patients

and attendants lie; men, exposed to the elements of nature; men simply

dangerously exposed!

This cannot ever meet the standards of ambulance care that we have come

to know.

14 Responses to In a biking ambulance made for 3

  1. Tony Webster January 11, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Alternative uses:-
    1: A new category of racing for Bushy Park’s for Grand Opening, each with a Minister driving.
    2: Police to use, in catching the Praedial Larceny guys in narrow cart-roads where their big SUV’s can’t go.
    3: Make some money for the Treasury: SELL the damn things to the Praedial Larceny guys…so they can escape the Police SUV’s in narrow cart-roads!
    4: Get Mr. Bannister to weld them all together into something weird and wonderful. Place Exhibit in “relevant” Minister’s car-parking space.
    5: Sell to the ZR crowd…who will be able to get 15 passengers into them…and reap National Savings on gasolene.
    6: “Refresh” the Concord thing at GAIA, with U-Drive-An-Ambulance rink for hyper-active kids.
    7: ECO-friendly thing: make a new reef in Carlisle Bay.
    8: Do nothing: insure them against accident; fire; rusting-away (no need to get theft cover) and store them for next 38 years; don’t overloook the need for three daily shifts of security guards. No need for “new staff”‘…just re-cycle (ooops) some NEEP guys.

  2. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte January 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    These could be use at events in bridgetown and near by areas, interschool sports coming up etc….. they can be used accordingly.

  3. Simon Gooding
    Simon Gooding January 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    :Ha…yuh all are so ungrateful….

  4. Sanderson Rowe January 11, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Immediately after the recent fatal accident at Eagle Hall, which also involved many injured persons, an official from the Ministry of Health announced that the Barbados Ambulance Service ,which services ,or suppose to service the whole of Barbados, was down to just one ambulance, plus a panel van that was being used in lieu of a fitted-for-role ambulance.
    I am sure that these 3-wheel ambulances could in future be utilised at such mass casualty situations, to ferry the less seriously injured to the hospital /polyclinic after initial treatment by response medics at the scene.
    There is a catchy song which goes “Three wheels on my wagon and I am still rolling along..” More than can be said for the many, many 4-wheel ambulance that the taxpayers have purchased over the years only to see them propped up without any wheels on the Ministry of Health compound as they go past Collymore Rock.
    The Ministry of Health could also easily convert these ricksaws to Refuse Collector trucks to service the alleys of Bridgetown, and those almost inner city communities, like Nelson and Wellington streets, Cats Castle and the Green Fields which are always inundated with mountains of stinking rat infested garbage.

  5. Simon Gooding
    Simon Gooding January 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    ..The former Minister of health it is you who should be ashamed of the comments you made about such a donation…when you were the MoH what did you do…?? just a lota big talk an promises an take your salary an have done NOTHING…these machines are a blessin for the emergence service….Politicians……

    • Rawle Spooner
      Rawle Spooner January 11, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Simon he playing politricks that’s all typical politician.

  6. Sanderson Rowe January 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    But what could be more embarrassing than being unable to maintain a handfull of relatively new ambulances.


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