Asserting that the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) has seen an increase in the number of emergency responses to physical assaults, stabbings and choppings over the past year, Divisional Officer, Ditney Downes, has appealed to citizens to settle their differences in a non-violent way.
‘That is of concern to us,’ Downes told St Lucia Times.
He disclosed that 2017 was a very challenging year for the SLFS in terms of ambulance responses.
According to Downes, the violent incidents that the department has responded to have not only taken a toll on the department’s resources, but have also had a psychological effect on fire officers.
‘They are the first responders – they have to deal with all the trauma, the wounds, the gunshots, choppings, stabbings,’ the SLFS official explained.
He told St Lucia Times that in view of the department’s manpower shortage, it is difficult to rotate staff.
‘The ambulance staff – the EMTs, most times the same persons are exposed to these kinds of scenes,’ Downes observed.
He expressed the hope that 2018 will be a better year in terms of the violence that the country experienced in 2017.
The SLFS has reported responding to 138 weekend emergency calls, including two house fires.
Downes, told St Lucia Times that the house fires occurred in the North and South of the Island.
He disclosed that the two storey building in the South was partially destroyed, while the house in the North was completely destroyed.
The SLFS official said 2017 was a challenging year for the department in terms of domestic and commercial fires.
‘We responded to a number of serious commercial fires and house fires,’ Downes recalled.
He said the SLFS will be stepping up its fire prevention activities, especially targetting domestic households, to assist citizens to put fire prevention measures in place.
‘Simple things like smoke detectors could assist in mitigating the damage done by fires,’ Downes said.