Ambulance crisis hits Byo

Bulawayo City Council

A RECENT Bulawayo City Council audit has revealed that only six of the local authority’s 15 ambulances are running, severely crippling its healthcare service delivery.

According to the report, the ambulance unit has 62 employees instead of the required 108, which is further compromising the city’s emergency response services.

“We noted that the division is operating with a fleet of six operational ambulances out of an establishment of 15 to cater for clientele demand,” partly read the audit report.

“This translates to 40% of the full establishment. The current operational ambulances are grossly inadequate considering the average daily calls of 45 to 50. Most ambulance crew members responding to our survey and interviews reported that due to a lack of ambulances and a shortage of human resources, there is an increase in workload which is now managed by few ambulance personnel manning the city.”

The audit noted that the shortage has led to ambulance deployment problems and the service’s reaction time is now beyond the stipulated 10 minutes.

“The problems arise when the demand for ambulances increases for various reasons. Due to the gross shortage, the section must respond within the stipulated standard procedure time of 10 minutes. The available ambulances cannot effectively service areas without compromising the response time, leading to some emergency calls being left unattended for hours, often leading to the loss of lives and revenue losses to the city as some patients then opt to seek alternative ambulance services,” the report added.

Interviews conducted with the operational staff by the audit department also revealed that the personnel were overwhelmed and could not meet the demand for ambulance services.

“Discussions with senior ambulance personnel revealed that they cannot recruit operational staff because they currently operate with only six ambulances. As a result, inefficiencies among the staff members may be encountered, and failure to achieve operational objectives,” further read the report.

The audit also noted that some of the six operational ambulances are operating without the essential equipment such as patient monitors, defibrillators, medication bags, rescue splints, bandages and bag value masks.

Suggested measures to resolve the crisis included the acquisition of an additional nine fully-equipped ambulances together with the appointment of additional emergency medical services personnel.

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