. . . Please let’s help our EMTs

Todays WomanIt is a firm belief of mine you can immediately tell the type of boss an institution has when you experience the attitude of the workers. Two Saturdays ago, as I walked through town, I met the most pleasant emergency medical technician (EMT) checking blood pressures and sugars on the corner of Lower Swan Street.

Her face and the way she executed her duties caught my attention, and I strolled towards her.

I queried what the exercise was about, and I was sold on her willingness to engage me. The EMT was a part of a Barbados Ambulance Service team who was offering checks for a donation. I had my checks done, and I asked to see her boss to have a better understanding of the initiative.

As is always the case, my belief that a boss’ ethic shows in his staff’s was reaffirmed.  Mr Andrew Brathwaite is one of the nameless faceless “members of the Civil Service” who provide a critical service to this nation. His official title is ambulance officer, and he runs the operations of the Barbados Ambulance Service.

Mr Brathwaite and his team are currently fund-raising to attend the World Emergency Medical Services Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in October.

The conference will provide over 130 lectures on real-time best practices in trauma and non-trauma care, and pre-hospital care management.

Additionally, suppliers and inventors of medical equipment will mount exhibitions and training in the use of cutting-edge equipment in the emergency medical services field.  Mr Brathwaite pointed out a poignant example of why such displays were critical.

He observed that some hotel properties in Barbados did not have the correct lifts that allowed his technicians to transport patients from top floors. He explained that lifting clients was now an outdated practice in emergency care. There were extensions which could be used to wheel stretchers downstairs –– that assist EMTs with keeping themselves and their patients safe, even in cases where lifts were not available.   Attendance at the conference would allow the Barbados Ambulance Service to make recommendations and choose equipment based on relevant information, research and the needs of the island.

The Barbados Ambulance Service was unable to attend last year’s conference due to monetary restraints and this year, Mr. Brathwaite has responded to the shortfall in funds by offering a value added service for a donation.  He indicated that the current training budget for the Barbados Ambulance Service was being used for a paramedic training programme at the Barbados Community College and until the economic fortunes of the country turned around they would have to depend solely on the public to assist them in going to the world October conference.

The morning I contacted Mr Brathwaite to interview him he was on his way to work well before 8:30. He apologized for not being able to talk immediately because
he needed to take his bath at work, since the water at his home had been off.

I probably should have kept Mr Brathwaite’s confidence; but I thought his admission was such another glaring example of his determination and interest in his job.

Back stories and contexts assist people in seeing there still are individuals going above and beyond their duty for the service of their fellowman and their country. The work ethic which he displays is present in the team he runs, and we are grateful to Mr Brathwaite and the EMTs for their service.

Please make it a point to offer your business as a site where the EMTs can carry out health checks. Please donate to this cause. Support our Ambulance Service. Tomorrow, the team will be in Lower Swan Street and at the health fair in Sheraton Mall.

The circumstances of existence in our 50th year of Independence are dire, but there are still Barbadians looking for solutions and means. I started with the good, and now I rest on the confusing before I end with the outright ugly.

I learnt this week that the Government of Barbados is exercising its option to enforce the annual return requirements on incorporated and limited liability companies. While the requirement was enshrined in the law for some years now, it has never been consistently enforced.

The requirement forces those to whom it applies to file an annual return with the corporate office on or before March 31 every year. The fee for the filing is $100. Once the filing date is missed, a penalty of $10 is incurred daily until the requirement is met.

Concerns about the requirement have been raised in the past by stakeholders, such as the Barbados Bar Association and the International Business Association.

One of the major contentions was that the Corporate Affairs Registry of Barbados was public, and most companies registered in Barbados were private. For the annual return to be lodged at Corporate Affairs leaves elements of companies’ details exposed “in the road”, as it were, because anybody can have access to the public register of Corporate Affairs.

There has not been much response or remedy to the concerns raised about the requirement to file. It is touted that the international business sector is one of our foreign exchange earners, but I guess it is only that when it doesn’t have concerns or questions; not when it requests clarification.

While $100 as an annual cost is not unreasonable, another concern has been added by the manner in which the Government has gone about the administration of the process. There were few, if any, advertisements or written correspondences that prepared company owners for the enforcement of the requirement. The stealthy implementation has left several Barbadian businesses, already reeling from the prolonged depressed economic conditions, facing significant penalties –– not because they consciously refused to comply with the requirement, but because they were not adequately informed.

The downright ugly to me is that this lack of communication has become characteristic of how Barbados is governed. We have fallen in our ratings in ease of doing business, and we do not understand how moves like this feed into the lowering of the rating.

One of the strengths of Barbados has always been the perception our little island was tidy –– with individuals and a Government that strove for excellence in all things.

Mr Brathwaite and the Ambulance Service of Barbados are keeping the high tradition alive, and yet it seems as though there are other areas of severe decline and that the idea of Barbados is a periled notion.

(Marsha Hinds-Layne is full-time mummy and part-time lecturer in communications at the University of the West Indies.
Email mhindslayne@gmail.com)

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