More concerns with GFD's ambulance shortage - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

More concerns with GFD's ambulance shortage

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Every second counts when it comes to responding to emergencies, but the Guam Fire Department's shortage of ambulances is having a detrimental impact on the very lives of those who count on them to respond in times of need. The lack of working ambulances at GFD is having a significant impact on their ability to save lives.  

Case in point, medics received a 911 call this morning for an 11-year-old girl who needed CPR, but GFD Spokesperson Captain Andy Arceo confirms there wasn't an available ambulance to respond. He said, "Unfortunately we had a 911 call of possible CPR in the Tamuning area, of course we rolled out our first responder which would be the fire truck from Tamuning and our advance life support teams, as a result the only other available medic we had because they were all out on runs was Inarajan."

Arceo says GFD only had three ambulances operating this morning, and the 11-year-old victim apparently had to wait until a medic at Naval Hospital in Agana Heights provided mutual aid.  The child later died at the Guam Memorial Hospital and an autopsy will be performed tomorrow afternoon.

As for the medic situation, he said, "We are at the mercy of parts coming in and the availability of the parts."

This afternoon only four medics were up in Yigo, Barrigada, Inarajan and Agat. "From this point on when we are in the process of buying new ambulances we also incorporate a preventive maintenance package and this package may include buying three or four of the same parts just to keep them on stock," said Arceo.

Arceo admits the last time the department got a new unit was back in 2006. GFD currently has one unit down at Morrico with engine problems, two at Triple J with cooling system, pressure pump and fuel injection problems, and another four in the department shop with issues such as breaks and electrical, and a broken bumper.

To help fill the gaps for non-emergency transports, at least four private ambulance companies are making runs. 

Administrator of Health Services of the Pacific Albert Gurusamy says GFD needs to consider at least one thing to keep its fleet going, saying, "But I think some of the issues with the GFD ambulances is that they are not maintained up to date as they should be because they are heavily used the preventive maintenance cycles should be higher."

Lawmakers are hoping to resolve the medic issue that has been plaguing the GFD for several years.

Due to session tomorrow, Senator Adolpho Palacios says he will convene the hearing then call for a recess until Thursday at 9am.

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