Tourists visiting the Dominican Republic should be aware of long wait times for ambulance services. 911, the country’s emergency number, has experienced several problems with delays in recent months. Residents across the country have taken to social media to voice their concerns over the issue.
National Emergency Care System and Security 911 began operating in the Dominican Republic some seven years ago. Despite gradual improvements in safety and emergency response, wait times and delays are causing concern among residents and tourists. Each minute matters in an emergency situation, meaning that just a small delay can decide a life or death situation.
Most of the complaints have to do with excessive waiting times for ambulances. In some cases, emergency personnel fail to show up at the site of the incident. For others, long delays mean an increased chance of severe injury or even death. As a result of the inefficiency, residents in the Dominican Republic have resorted to taking taxis or asking friends or family to take them to the hospital.
The Emergency Care System has responded to the claims saying that there are a number of factors that affect waiting time. Their resources are stretched thin, and the low availability of emergency units means only the most urgent calls can be answered. They also note that the large distances covered by ambulances may affect waiting times.
Traffic is another reason behind the long wait times, according to the emergency response agency. Congestion is especially bad in the capital region, home to most of the country’s population. Drivers, when hearing an incoming ambulance, should make way for emergency vehicles. This is not the case for many of the Dominican drivers, officials say.
Meanwhile, remote parts of the country lack sufficient access to modern ambulances. The government recently announced that it had received 30 new ambulances to help first responders reach other provinces of the country.
In late April, a fire at the Canal del Sol TV station caused severe burns leading to one death and several injuries. The occupants, who were stuck inside the building when it caught fire, called the emergency services asking to be reduced and receive first aid. Despite the urgency of the situation, first responders took too long to arrive at the scene. As a result, bystanders had to use their own cars to transport the victims to nearby hospitals. According to Ángel Puello, director of the Canal del Sol, if it hadn’t been for the quick response of the nearby residents, many of the victims might not have made it to the hospital on time.
The National Emergency Care System and Security 911 received a grand total of 158,000 recorded calls during the first trimester of the year. Santo Domingo, San Cristóbal and Puerto Plata recorded the highest numbers of emergency calls. Of the total, 96% fell under the responsibility of the police whereas 74% were transferred to the national health service.
Authorities Focusing On Boat Safety
Authorities from the Environment Ministry met with industry leaders to address the situation of boat safety in La Romana, a popular tourist destination. They agreed to improve water transport security after several deadly accidents in April. The new measures include a dedicated ambulance for the Bayahíbe area as well as upgraded first aid equipment.
Officials say that all tour operators need to have up-to-date paperwork. The goal is to regulate and standardize boating in the area to make sure the right safety protocols are in place for the summer season.
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