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E/R: Trotros, taxis turned ambulances for dying patients

Taxis and commercial vehicles have become ‘alternative ambulances’ for inter-hospital referrals of critically ill patients in the Eastern Region due to lack of ambulances.

Patients are usually referred to the Regional Hospital, Koforidua, and the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and 37 Military Hospital, both in Accra.

But the patients are not transported in ambulances but usually in commercial vehicles popularly known as trotro.

In the trotro, oxygen cylinders are either carried on or tied to a passenger seat to provide first aid and cardiovascular support for patients who are put on the hand-held drip.

Unlike an ambulance fitted with paramedic apparatus such as a stretcher to protect patients from further injuries during transportation, family members sit side by side the patients in the commercial vehicle to hold the patient firmly to his/her seat, while ensuring the oxygen mask and drip do not remove.

This inconvenient means of transporting critically ill patients has become the order of the day in the region, particularly in Lower Manya Krobo area, which is an improvised means to save lives as all the ambulances in the region, except one at Berogo, have broken down.

The stations with broken down ambulances are Koforidua, Kpong, Nkawkaw, Suhum, Kade, Kibi, Akim Oda and Mampong.

The others are Mpraeso, Nsawam, Donkokrom, New Abirem, Anyinam, Abetifi, Asamankese and Somanya.

Reactions by Health Officials

Reacting to the development, the head of administration at the Atua Government Hospital, Mr Ghartey Frimpong, said, “in fact, it hasn’t been easy, but what we do on our part is that we try our best to transport them in pick-ups. We try our best to ensure that we save lives. What we do is that we put the oxygen cylinder in the bucket of the pick-up and pass the oxygen tube through the door tied to be connected to the patient.”

He said the location of the hospital makes it a referral centre for most accident cases.

The administrator explained that sometimes they rely on Dodowa and Volta Region, which are hours away, for ambulance when overwhelmed with emergencies, but they are not always lucky to get the ambulance service.

The Medical Director of St. Martins De Porres Hospital at Agormanya, Dr Gospel Agamah, also expressed worry that “we don’t have ambulance, the whole municipality, no working ambulance, that is how bad it is. Patients who are fortunate to have relatives with private cars, we allow them to transport patients during referrals, which is risky but we allow them. Others pick passenger vehicles to referral hospitals.”

The Lower Manya Krobo Municipal Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Akosua Owusu Sarpong, also lamented that the gains of the municipal health directorate were being eroded by the lack of ambulance services.

According to her, some deaths recorded could have been avoided if emergency medical service delivery had been available.

Source: Daily Heritage

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