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Monday 16 September 2019
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Dr Rampersad: Where was the EHS?

Media, cultural and literary consultant Dr Kris Rampersad has raised questions after failed attempts to get an ambulance for Pat Bishop after she collapsed on Saturday afternoon.

The 71-year-old musical director fell ill at about 4.10pm on Saturday while at the Ministry of Planning and Economy during a meeting of the Expert Panel on Culture and the Creative Sector.

According to reports, she was rushed to the emergency facility at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital but doctors there were unable to revive her.

In an open letter to Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, Rampersad, who is also the international relations director for the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago, said after Bishop collapsed, she called E999 and was told she needed to call the hotline of the Emergency Health Services (EHS).

She followed these instructions and was asked for the location of the emergency. The EHS operator was informed that Bishop was at the Twin Towers, Financial Complex, Level 14, Ministry of Planning.

Rampersad was asked for further address details and after telling them Independence Square and Port-of-Spain, she was told EHS would have to look up the address.

“I told them it was an emergency and we needed an ambulance immediately. They said they could not send an ambulance immediately as they had a backlog of requests and they had to look up the address .... Are our emergency health calls going to some call centre in Timbuktu???,” she asked the minister in the letter.

Those assisting Bishop eventually called the Fire Service and an ambulance from a private clinic which came shortly after but the vehicle from the EHS did not appear.

“You may appreciate the degree of frustration represented in this letter given that at the time of her collapse, Ms Bishop was battling for the sector to which she has devoted her entire life that the people who work in it can do so with pride, dignity and ability to support themselves and their families from it,” she stated.

Attempts were made yesterday to contact the Health Minister for comment but he did not answer his mobile phone. A text message was also sent to the number. Dr Khan later responded as he was in a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

“I am concerned that if the information is correct, it is cause for worry but I don’t have the facts and I will do so very soon,” he said.

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