MoH calls for consolidation of emergency services

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THE minister of health has suggested for the consolidation of emergency services among various agencies with ‘first responder’ units to improve the response time during emergencies.

During the 12th Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday, Minister of Health YB Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi said that the consolidation of emergency services is a step towards providing better health care assistance during an emergency situation.

“Recently, we have been involved in discussions with emergency services such as the Fire and Rescue Department, the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces with their first responder assets,” he said.

He said this in his response to Belait Representative and LegCo member YB Hj Mohd Shafiee Ahmad who asked about improvement of emergency services and the lack of emergency response personnel in certain areas.

“It is a better step to consolidate these services. We have enough of these (first responder) assets in the country so now it is just about finding ways to make it work,” he said.

As an example, the minister said that an emergency response team from Brunei Shell Petroleum could respond with their paramedics first should there be an emergency situation in the Anduki area until MoH’s emergency unit can take over.

As for the shortage of paramedics in Belait, the health minister said the Ministry of Education has conducted paramedic courses since three years ago.

The courses have been in place for a while and are conducted through nurses who are trained as paramedics.

The health minister also stressed the importance of having basic first aid knowledge, adding that increase in awareness among schools and organisations are needed.

YB Hj Mohd Shafiee said there is only one ambulance and one driver at the Labi Health Centre, but noted that there are no paramedics on hand.

Meanwhile, the Sungai Liang Health Centre only has two ambulances, with only one functioning as there are not enough paramedics, said the LegCo member.

He added that the shortage of male paramedics has been raised before in the previous LegCo meetings.

“Some of them (paramedics) also prefer to work for private companies due to better salaries,” said YB Hj Mohd Shafiee.

He hoped the ministry will consider increasing its nurses for Kg Labi, Kg Bukit Sawat and other remote areas such as Kg Sukang and Kg Melilas as these areas are more prone to a longer response time.

Tutong representative YB Hj Ramli Hj Lahit also suggested for an ambulance standby service to be allocated at the Lamunin Health Centre to ease/reduce response time for residents living in the area.

The Brunei Times