EMS plays an important role in health care, says Minister Phipps

(SKNIS): Minister of State with responsibility for Health, Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps, is reminding nationals of the important role of The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff.

The EMS in St. Kitts and Nevis is currently celebrating its 17th anniversary under the theme “Emergency is our name, Medical care is our game, Quality Service is our Aim: Working Together to Make a Difference”.

Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps, giving an address to declare open the 12-day period between December 11 and 22, 2016, which is designated in observance of the 17th anniversary, noted that “A historical review of institutionalized emergency medical care in the Federation would reveal that such services would have been introduced in December 1977 when the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire Services began providing assistance to citizens and residents with First Aid and transportation to the hospital. At that time, the most basic emergency medical services would have been provided. This was confined to the provision of transportation to take patients from the scene of a health emergency directly to the nearest medical facility in order to receive treatment. This system continued for some 22 years by our Fire Officers who had Basic First Aid training – which they carried out to the best of their ability.”

She further said that in December 1999, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis came to the realization that there was an important need for specialized medical pre- hospital care for critical and trauma patients in order to ensure their best chance of survival.

“As such, the EMS,” according to Senator Phipps, “was developed as a pilot project, with an initial staff complement of eight (8) persons trained in pre-hospital medical care and transport. The service was based at JNF General Hospital, with training being provided by Bud Avery of Nova Scotia, Canada. The eight officers were trained in EMT-Basic, the international entry level standard for EMS Departments.” She noted that “Four (4) of the original trainees are still employed on staff at JNF today.”

Further underscoring the important role of the EMS, Senator Phipps outlined the duties of EMS Professionals, noting that “training of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) is done by the In-Service Education Department of the JNF Hospital, for trainees on both St. Kitts and Nevis, including Fire Department.” She added that The EMS in St. Kitts is staffed by 32 persons who are based at JNF Hospital in Basseterre and Pogson Hospital in Sandy Point. The EMS staff consists of attendants, drivers and dispatchers. The skill set of our EMTs include patient assessment and examination oxygen therapy Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) initiation of intravenous fluid therapy airway management and emergency delivery of babies. It should be noted that apart from the expanded range of training received by our EMTs, they also assist with the care of patients in the Emergency Rooms.”

Minister Phipps congratulated and thanked the staff and indicated that “it should be evident to the public that the work of Emergency Medical Staff is not only important – it is also critical to our Federation’s Integrated Emergency Medical Services. I congratulate all of our EMS staff on St. Kitts and Nevis for their vital contribution towards the development and maintenance of health and wellness in our Nation. I also pay tribute to the staff of our In-Service Education Department at JNF Hospital, for their consistently high standards of training delivery to our EMTs. Their Nurse Managers at JNF and Alexandra Hospitals on St. Kitts and Nevis should also be commended for their leadership and management of this essential service to the people of our Country.”

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