The Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) has been explaining why there was a delay in its response to a report of a pregnant woman in distress at Blue Coral Mall, Castries, on Saturday.
One social media post indicated that it took an ambulance one hour and twenty-two minutes to respond.
It was reported that emergency personnel who were summoned to mall to assist the bleeding woman, kept saying that there was an accident elsewhere and only one fire station was open.
Assistant Divisional Officer, David Antoine, told St Lucia Times that due to the industrial action taken by firefighters, the SLFS did not have the response capability to address the Blue Coral Mall incident in a timely manner.
Antoine explained that at the time, fire officers had responded to a report of a motor vehicle accident at Bexon.
Two motorcyclists were injured in that incident when a car ran off the road and hit two parked motorcycles on which the men were sitting near a bar.
“As soon as the first ambulance got to base we were able to make a response and the lady was assessed and treated on the scene and transported to Victoria Hospital,” Antoine stated.
He told St Lucia Times that because of the strike action by firefighters, emergency vehicles are not ‘properly staffed.’
“We do not have the manpower to do so,” he said.
According to the senior fire officer, the situation was compounded by the fact that a response had already been made to the Bexon accident.
Antoine disclosed that as a result no staff were available to respond at that time to the Blue Coral incident.
He said he was informed that when the ambulance did respond, the woman was safely treated at the scene and transferred to hospital.
Firefighters have been on strike since Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in an effort to get the government to address ‘decades long’ outstanding issues affecting them.
Despite what was described as a very cordial meeting on Thursday of last week between Labour Minister, Stephenson King, and the Saint Lucia Fire Service Association, the disgruntled firefighters came away asserting that nothing had changed and that they wanted action and not more promises.
After a meeting of the association’s general membership the following day, the firefighters announced that their industrial action would continue.
They have remained on strike despite a letter on Saturday from King urging them to return to work and declaring that the strike is ‘contrary to law’.