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Cruz Bay
Wednesday, May 22, 2024


Emergency medical technicians on St. Croix continued calling in sick Tuesday in protest over the Department of Health’s slow response to a private firm’s offer to maintain the island’s ambulances for free. The EMT sickout on Tuesday followed short staffing on Sunday and Monday.
At issue were two agreements between the Health Department and Hovensa subcontractor Anthony Crane, who has offered, at no charge, to maintain the Emergency Medical Service’s four ambulances.
But red tape caused the resolution of the hold-harmless issue to be delayed. That in turn prompted EMTs to stage their job action to force the department to take up Crane’s offer.
On Tuesday, Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Phyllis Wallace said the issue had been resolved.
In addition to purchasing such basic supplies as oxygen, tape and gloves, EMTs are often faced with broken-down ambulances. Within the last two weeks Emergency Medical Service managers had to twice borrow an ambulance from a private firm because all the government’s vehicles were out of order.
According to Health Department officials, the Legislature has appropriated funds for the territory’s two hospitals to purchase five new ambulances, one for St. John and two each for St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Wallace said vehicle specifications have been supplied to the manufacturer. She said it could be three to four months before delivery is made.

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