Jamaica makes its own ambulances ... saves millions in the process
The Southern Regional Health Authority now boasts two new custom-built, state-of-the-art ambulances and is encouraging the health ministry to expand the vision to other regions.
Chairman Wayne Chen told THE WEEKEND STAR that the need for ambulances in the southern region sparked the idea to convert two new Toyota buses locally into ambulances. He said the initiative to convert and customise the two buses into ambulances has resulted in savings of $7.6 million.
"The region needs more ambulances because we have to transport patients from Black River Hospital sometimes to Mandeville or even situations where patients have to be transported from the South to hospitals in Kingston and Montego Bay."
The SRHA is responsible for the delivery of health-care services to the residents of Clarendon, Manchester, and St Elizabeth. It delivers service through its network of 74 health centres, five hospitals, one community hospital, and two rural maternity centres.
Chen said that after the funds were identified to pursue the local project, it was established that the cost would be significantly less and the turnaround time would be much faster than importing an ambulance from Japan.
"The time it would have cost us to get one ambulance we got two, which is even better for our conditions and purposes. Instead of six months, we got them ready in six weeks. It's a Jamaican innovation because all the work is done in Jamaica,. The idea, design, and actual manufacturing of the interior are all done in Jamaica."
He added: "Everything is top notch as we have had great experiences with the company. The ambulance out of Japan would have had relatively small oxygen tanks. So our ambulance can take a bigger oxygen tank, so modifications like these really adapt to Jamaican situations. We have passed on the information to the ministry, so we are looking to put more ambulances like these in the system."
Regional Director Michael Bent said that the customisation was done without compromising the Government of Jamaica Procurement Guidelines and the international specifications for ambulances.
The savings on the ambulances are in excess of $7 million.
Bent explained that two new ambulances value $22 million, but the initiative to covert and customise the buses resulted in a combined cost of $14.4 million for the two new units.