Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 19th 2015 Contents A5
Saturday, December 19, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
STORIES BY KALIFA CLYNE
Port-of-Spain Mayor Ray-
mond Tim Kee says the health
of the 350,000 people who
visit Port-of-Spain every
week takes precedence over
the concerns of vendors at
the Queen s Park Savannah.
At a press conference at his
office, yesterday afternoon,
Tim Kee responded to com-
plaints from vendors that being
required to temporarily vacate
a section of the Savannah
would cause them to lose their
The vendors had com-
plained to the T&T Guardian
about what they said was a
lack of consultation on Tim
Kee s part, in announcing that
they would have to leave the
paved part of the Savannah,
opposite Memorial Park, for
three to five weeks.
In this time the engineering
department of the Port-of-
Spain Borough Corporation
will rid the area of large rats,
which he said has infested the
The corporation is also
expected to install running
water for vendors and patrons
and make toilet facilities avail-
able in the area.
While the Savannah is under
the remit of the Ministry of
Agriculture, Tim Kee said his
corporation would be enforcing
the law when it came to health
in the city.
"We held a meeting with
the agriculture ministry and
we shared our concerns with
"Out of that meeting we
reached an agreement that the
vendors would have to leave
in order for the place to be
cleaned up and proper facilities
put in place," Tim Kee said.
He said people were under-
estimating the problem, and
described the rats as "huge
He said while rats would
always be present in the city,
the infestation, particularly at
the Queen s Park Savannah,
was cause for worry.
He said the situation was
dangerous and could result in
poor health or even death.
"There is a sewer running
underground in that area as
well and some of the rats live
in there," Tim Kee said.
Once the upgrades were
done to the area, Tim Kee said,
there would be new rules for
He said the place would
require upkeep and vendors
would have to pay a fee, and
would be required to adhere
to proper health standards.
The adherence to proper
standards will also be insisted
on throughout the Christmas
and Carnival season.
Tim Kee said any vendors
setting up in the capital city
must ensure that their booths
met high standards.
"It can t be that they are
pounding together some wood
or some galvanise and expect
that to be enough."
Health Minister Terrence
Deyalsingh says citizens will have
access to 25 new ambulances by
the end of the first quarter of
This comes after he gave a
directive to increase the fleet of
ambulances following visits to
Deyalsingh said a shortage of
ambulances and an insufficient
number of gurneys at the Accident
and Emergency (A&E) depart-
ments of the nation s public health
institutions were the main reasons
for recent delays in ambulance
Last month, a Williamsville man
died after spending almost an hour
waiting for an ambulance to take
him to the San Fernando General
This week, Deyalsingh held dis-
cussions with the state s contract-
ed ambulance service provider
Global Medical Response of
Trinidad and Tobago Limited
He said the company s contract
with the Government states that
there must be a fleet of at least
However, the fleet currently
includes only 28 to 30 ambulances
in daily rotation to serve the entire
country, which violates the terms
of the contract.
For a number of years, citizens
have complained about the
lengthy wait time for ambulances
to pick up patients in emergency
Complaints have ranged from
45 minutes to hour-long wait
Deyalsingh, who met with
GMRTT recently, said following
discussions, the company had
indicated that it had ordered 25
ambulances and would order the
remainder later in the year.
Deyalsingh said it wasn t nec-
essary to place all the blame on
GMRTT, however, as the State had
also violated the contract with
delays in the transfer of patients
from the ambulance to the A&E
departments of hospitals.
He said this accounted for a
long turnover time which affected
the time it took for ambulances
to reach emergency patients.
"The problem is the transfer
from the ambulance to the A&E
gurney," Deyalsingh said.
"The ambulance comes and
they have to wait because there
aren t enough trollies to transfer
the patients so they can leave.
"We are not adhering to our
end of the bargain."
Deyalsingh said he had instruct-
ed the Regional Health Authorities
(RHAs) to purchase more trollies
for their A&E departments.
"This is what I inherited and
this is what I will fix."
He also said part of the problem
was that people were not dialling
the correct number for ambu-
lances and were instead calling
"The number for the ambu-
lances is 811, the ambulances
attached to the RHAs are for
He said it was only in some
emergency cases that RHA ambu-
latory services would go to retrieve
patients from their homes.
Policemen patrol the Chaguanas Main Road during yesterday's busy Christmas shopping in the borough.
PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
Minister of Health Terrence
Deyalsingh yesterday set new
"ground rules" for his interaction
with the media as he announced a
new weekly press conference on the
Deyalsingh, who spoke at length
of guidelines and being called up to
30 times per day by radio, television
and print, said the volume of calls
was too much.
Instead of the calls, Deyalsingh said,
he could be reached either by email
or at the 10 am Friday press confer-
ences to be scheduled by his min-
"This is where all of you can come
every Friday at 10 o clock and ask
your questions. How does that
"The love affair can grow and con-
tinue with these guidelines."
Stressing that he wanted to be as
open and as factual as he could be,
the minister said while he understood
deadlines, this was the way things
would be going forward.
"Very often the media calls me
because they have a deadline to write
a story and it is a complex issue and
they want a quote from the minis-
"I ll give you an example, so that
you can understand my position. I
got a call two Saturday nights ago at
8.30 in the night. A reporter for a
daily newspaper calls me at 8.30 on
a Saturday night. He says minister,
I am writing a front page article for
tomorrow s Sunday edition on a
speech given by the treasurer of the
medical board on the previous
Wednesday," Deyalsingh recalled.
"So the treasurer gave a speech
Wednesday and I am assuming that
the treasurer would have researched
his speech, refined it over a number
of days. So the media was sitting on
this and it contained a quote into
allegations of sexual abuse by doctors.
And I am called at 8.30 on a Saturday
night to make a quote on an explosive
issue like that. I simply told the
reporter I cannot make an off-the-
cuff statement on such an explosive
He said situations like this were
the reason for the new "ground rules"
as to how he would be communi-
cating with the media.
He gave additional advice.
"When you are following stories
your first port of call is not the Min-
ister of Health, your first port of call
is to the CEO or Medical Chief of
Staff of the particular hospital or the
"A reporter called, can you com-
ment on a case of gastroenteritis, a
five-year-old child in Mt. Hope. Is
it realistic for a Minister of Health to
know about every single headache,
sprained ankle or every single case?
"You have to ask yourself if that is
newsworthy in the first place."
In response yesterday, the Media
Association of T&T said it would first
look at the facts before commenting.
PoS mayor: Health concerns the priority
25 new ambulances
coming in 2016
Raymond Tim Kee
Health Minister Terrence
Deyalsingh during yesterday's
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
Minister lashes media
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