St John’s Ambulance Bermuda, a volunteer-based first aid charity is supporting Bermuda’s vulnerable communities and frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A team of six medically trained St John’s Ambulance volunteers were selected to transport patients to and from testing facilities and they are also transporting COVID-19 positive patients to quarantine facilities as needed. St John is also helping with the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] to frontline healthcare workers all across Bermuda.
St John’s Ambulance Commissioner Gareath Adderley says; “We delivered the 3D printed face shields as they were being made by local high schools, we’ve distributed surgical masks to doctors when they were available and now we’re making sure doctors and dentist offices are receiving the KN95 masks under the direction of the BMDA, now they’re on island.”
All of the Personal Protective Equipment they’ve distributed was purchased by the private sector, filling a gap that the Ministry of Health could not fill.
Dr. Henry Dowling, BMDA President explained; “When the government and Bermuda Hospitals Board had challenges in sourcing and supplying the protection necessary for patients to see the community Doctors, Dentist, and healthcare providers, it was the private sector who stepped up and provided the finances necessary to allow us to take care of the people of Bermuda.
He said; “The private sector support went further than funding the equipment ordered; it was the personal relationships, persistence and determination of business leaders that saved the day. Initially, when we were working under the leadership of the BHB, there were institutional delays that threatened to postpone our ability to quickly source what we needed to take care of our patients.”
“We asked that the essential PPE procurement be managed by the private sector group, and a small and passionate team broke ranks and worked against the odds to order and negotiate the secure arrival of two shipments, at a time when other countries and our own government, were being blocked by US Customs. The steps that they had to go through is the stuff that James Bond movies are made of. We have them and the US Consulate to thank for making sure that the goods got through.”
“With the efficiency and contacts within the private sector, the orders were able to get in and processed despite the earlier setbacks, and our equipment landed and was being distributed in Bermuda before the Bermuda Hospital Board’s order had left China.”
“More than one million dollars was raised by the private sector of which they have assigned a quarter of that to be directed towards community care, and for that we are eternally grateful.
“These include international business leaders as well as the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, Bermuda-based local and international insurers and reinsurers, healthcare associations such as the Bermuda Medical Doctors Association [BMDA], the Bermuda Dental Association and the Bermuda Chiropractic Association, as well as private dentist.”
The St John’s Ambulance volunteer team say they have been well protected from the outset because their duties include transporting symptomatic patients from their residences to government testing facilities. Commissioner Adderley said; “We’re very grateful as the Health Department has provided us the appropriate PPE as needed for the work we are doing.”
St John’s Ambulance is also providing an ambulance and crew every evening from 6pm to 8am for vulnerable persons at the CedarBridge government shelter.
“We’re taking the temperatures of all the government shelter residents, security, staff and our own team daily and we’re there for any other medical needs. Of course people still suffer unrelated healthcare situations and we’ve transported several vulnerable people from the shelter to the hospital during this time”.
The government has issued a grant to St John’s Ambulance for its services however the Commissioner says the charity has lost 3 months of revenue during this time.
“We’re 100% volunteer and normally when we attend a duty we receive a donation to cover our operating expenses. While we’re very grateful for the government grant for transporting patients and for our daily CedarBridge duties, we are in need of donations more now than ever.”
The public can donate to St John’s Ambulance with information on their website here. They are also interested in hearing from medically trained volunteers.
The BMDA has high praise for St John’s Ambulance Commissioner Adderley, Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Borges and their team for the “fantastic job all the members of St John’s Ambulance and their Board have done to keep Bermuda’s community protected from the novel coronavirus”.
Commissioner Adderley also wanted to thank his team saying “they are doing a great job in these difficult times”. He also stated; “Our work will continue for as long as the need is there – it could be several weeks more.” He said; “We have the masks on and we’re still smiling from behind them!”