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Thread: Emergency response, adequate or of concern?

  1. #1
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    Emergency response, adequate or of concern?

    We had a medical emergency this past week at the Divi Phoenix where an elderly gentleman passed out and hit his head. He didn't remember what happened as he blacked out.* The resort called and asked for an ambulance.* We were told that it would be 30 to 45 minutes until they arrived.* After 3 phone calls and over 90 minutes, we were told that the ambulance wasn't coming as they (the amblance) felt it wasn't an emergency.

    My concerns are many. How can they determine without even seeing him or talking to any medical personal that may be on site, that this was not an emergency?* Why didn't they tell us 90 minutes earlier that they weren't coming so we could transport him to the hospital by other means.* Which is what eventually happened (he was transported to the hospital via a personal vehicle).

    When the resort along with my wife called the ambulance manager to complain, while appologetic he said that there are only 3 ambulances on the island. One for the hotel area, one for the airport area and one for San Nichols area.* The one in the hotel area was apparently tied up. The one from San Nichols was asked to respond, but apparently felt it wasn't needed.* He wasn't sure why. Again of bigger concern was they made that determination they werent coming with no actual medical knowledge of the situation ... and no one ever informed us they weren't coming.

    There are an awful lot of people on this island and a lot of tourists bringing in a LOT of revenue to this island.* I think we need and deserve better response than this.* This week I had my two grandchildren here along with my very pregnant daughter.* What if something happened to one of them?

    Right now, I am very concerned about this. Am I over reacting.* Is this an extreme rare occasion and the failure of one individual (who ever made the decision not to show up) or a failure of the system? * Or are others as concerned as I am?

  2. #2
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    We are here now, and it is VERY concerning. I guess it is good to know we are "on our own" so we can act accordingly. BUT: what if it was a heart attack, where "time is muscle"? You are right about the amt of revenue being brought here daily to this island, and 3 ambulances total for 100,000+ residents plus who knows how many visitors is substandard, to say the least. I hope the person who fell is ok.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the concern of the individual. Per Aruba hospital recommendations, he was flown home to the US. But initial reports from the US hospital is that he is doing better.

    Perhaps with pressure from the resorts, they can add another ambulance for this area. This could have turned out much worse.

  4. #4
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    maybe there are others on this forum who have had to use EMS in aruba that will comment.
    i would encourage you to write to the ATA (aruba tourism authority) and state your concerns. also too, a cc of your letter to the divi phoenix.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    my opinion and my opinion only

    I understand your concern, however as a former EMT I can state that as frightening as it sometime is for bystanders, emergency workers cannot be everywhere at all times and do sometimes have to treat victims who have a higher priority. As much as we would like them to be, emergency personnel cannot be everywhere at once.

    Severed arteries, or major damage to, internal hemorrhaging, major amputations, large-area burns, severe trauma, or life-threatening medical crisis that they are unlikely to survive unless immediate care is not given, are those who receive first priority. Those who receive first priority are those with multiple trauma, such as gunshot, stab wounds, or multiple deep lacerations. Similarly, those who've been in major motor vehicle accidents (we are not talking "fender benders"). People who are having an obvious stroke or those having heart attacks which can be quickly ascertained by ER staff with an EKG. Other patients receiving priority are those with unstable vital signs- extremely low or high blood pressure (sudden onset, not high blood pressure history), those with obvious stroke or who are having a heart attack with a specific pattern on EKG," or those in shock are treated in a priority order.

    One way of looking at it is, once arriving at a hospital emergency room, not all patients are going to be treated immediately upon arrival, they will be treated based upon greatest need first.

    If the person regained consciousness fairly quickly and was not bleeding to death, sometimes difficult to ascertain with a head injury which do sometimes bleed badly from only a minor cut, transporting him to the hospital via a personal vehicle was probably the most practical response of any bystander.

    Is there a lesson to be learned here? Absolutely. Perhaps, and they may already, resorts should have at least some of their staff trained in first aid. There is the security visibility team patrolling the beaches, perhaps they could be trained as first responders to responding to resort emergencies and do triage to access whether the injured needs immediate medical attention or can be transported to the hospital by personal vehicle.

    As a former EMT in a beach community in NJ, the population of our seaside town would swell upwards 5 times our normal population during our busiest days of the summer. Did we buy 5 times the number of ambulances? No. We used first responders (police officers) and prioritized our emergency calls based upon need. Where there days where we were responding to someone who fell and bumped their head and were diverted to a car accident or heart attack? More times than I can remember.

    When we had a boat capsize with 12 men aboard in frigid waters one winter, the man with the broken leg was the last to arrive at the hospital whereas the unconscious who later died were the first we transported.

    I think living in the U.S. it is only natural to want the best medical treatment possible, but on a island the size of Aruba, it is a sizable investment for an ambulance, about $150,000 USD and then salaries of staff 24/7 to support the ambulance. We could demand that the resorts and the government supply these things, but I think it would eventually be paid for by your tourist dollars anyway. In 13 + years of following Aruba forums this is the first time I have heard such a complaint and I am thinking that perhaps there is a less expensive way to deal with the situation.

    If you have a specific medical condition, no matter where you are traveling, please make yourself aware of the treatments and facilities available before you require the service.

  6. #6
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    I fully understand and agree with prioritizing. However I would hope as a former EMT, that you would never say that you were coming and at some point decide you were not only not coming. And you weren't going to bother to let us know either.

    We did have a doctor, a nurse and a former EMT on site, who all recommended based on his condition that he should be sent to the hospital to be checked out. We would have used a personal vehicle if they told us it was going to be a very long time before they got there, or they weren't going to make it at all. However that was not the case.

    Unfortunately, they made the decision in a bubble. I don't want to get into personal information about the patient, but it was more than a bump on the head and it was not innocent bystanders without any medical knowledge who were recommending the ambulance. A person at the resort with first aid training would not have been more qualified than the the people we already had on site. However he needed the attention and equipment that could only be provided by the hospital

    Again, I understand limited funds and prioritizing, but I don't understand to be told that "we're on our way", when in fact they were not. If long waits are problematic here, then that's a problem. If it is very uncommon, then perhaps the procedures (of coming, not coming and proper communications) are all that's flawed.

  7. #7
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    >>>> "Right now, I am very concerned about this. Am I over reacting."
    ------ No you are not. Have never had to use 911 but since 1987 we had 2 major problems. One was at 4AM. Both times our resort(Casa del Mar) had Security drive us to the hospital in the CDM car. The 4AM required a precription filled.
    At night there is always one drug store on the island open at night(understand they take turns). Security came back to the hospital and drove my wife and son to the drug store. So I don't worry.
    >>>> "that you would never say that you were coming and at some point decide you were not only not coming."
    ------ Guess I live in a great County in Maryland. To keep busy I work a few nights a month as Security at a retirement community. At night there is no nurse on duty so we handle locked doors, fire alarms(usually burnt food), ...... Simple things. If a person falls and can't get up it means call 911. Over many many years think I have called 911 almost a dozen times as we should not try to pick residents up without a medical opion. They come fast.
    If a ambulance is busy a fire truck comes first. Think some of our firemen know just as much as our EMT's.
    Last edited by TomFrederick; 03-18-2012 at 08:25 PM.

  8. #8
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    I don't believe you are overreacting but you must understand, you are not in the US emergency care is not the same on the island as in the states. I have been to both the fire stations and ambulance stations and while they are not what we have they do a good job with what they have. One other thing, I was told most places have on call doctor's and staff that can provide basic first aid, however like you found out that's not always the case. Next time on the island I'm going to invesigate more.

  9. #9
    Aruba since 1979
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    you have made mention of your "very pregnant daughter"

    at what stage of pregnancy is travel (international vis airline) prohibited?
    traveling pregnant can be a whole other topic now couldn't it?
    just wondering.


    and in re: to your concern for lack of ambulances.

    after reading lisa's reply, and the other replies, i suppose it is all about prioritizing.
    (great reply lisa)

    if those at the Divi Phoenix that were involved with the "first responder-like care", why did one of those people not transport this person to the hospital in their own vehicle or contact the police when it became apparent that the ambulance was not coming or delayed?

    unfortunately in this kind of a situation there is no real answer there is only speculation and what ifs.

    i do encourage you to write your concerns to the Aruba Tourism Authority. the ATA is a government agency, and remember tourism is of the utmost importance to the Arubans.

    Re: First Aid and responders in Aruba (NOT EMTs) Lacabana resort has a wonderful first aid station and director. His name is Abraham (sorry i do not know his last name)

    This guy is awesome and has done lots to help lacabana guests.

    I do not believe that the Lacabana is the only resort with outstanding first aid capabilities.

    DePalm Co. has a wonderful first aid program a well. Amy Spagnola (an american woman) heads up the team and they do a great job.

    Let's as a community talk about the positives that we have experienced, and work on improving at what some may consider the negative.





    Quote Originally Posted by dfranklin View Post
    We had a medical emergency this past week at the Divi Phoenix where an elderly gentleman passed out and hit his head. He didn't remember what happened as he blacked out.* The resort called and asked for an ambulance.* We were told that it would be 30 to 45 minutes until they arrived.* After 3 phone calls and over 90 minutes, we were told that the ambulance wasn't coming as they (the amblance) felt it wasn't an emergency.

    My concerns are many. How can they determine without even seeing him or talking to any medical personal that may be on site, that this was not an emergency?* Why didn't they tell us 90 minutes earlier that they weren't coming so we could transport him to the hospital by other means.* Which is what eventually happened (he was transported to the hospital via a personal vehicle).

    When the resort along with my wife called the ambulance manager to complain, while appologetic he said that there are only 3 ambulances on the island. One for the hotel area, one for the airport area and one for San Nichols area.* The one in the hotel area was apparently tied up. The one from San Nichols was asked to respond, but apparently felt it wasn't needed.* He wasn't sure why. Again of bigger concern was they made that determination they werent coming with no actual medical knowledge of the situation ... and no one ever informed us they weren't coming.

    There are an awful lot of people on this island and a lot of tourists bringing in a LOT of revenue to this island.* I think we need and deserve better response than this.* This week I had my two grandchildren here along with my very pregnant daughter.* What if something happened to one of them?

    Right now, I am very concerned about this. Am I over reacting.* Is this an extreme rare occasion and the failure of one individual (who ever made the decision not to show up) or a failure of the system? * Or are others as concerned as I am?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mr. Ratt's Avatar
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    On the note of resort staff, if I may...

    During a horseback riding excursion a few years back, the Lady was unfortunately cut just above the foot by a flying rock, thrown up by the horse ahead of her.

    A good bit of blood but nothing major in the way of injury. At any rate, on return to the ranch it was dealt with, cleaned up and bandaged and such. However, on our return to the resort, it would seem that a few of the staff members at the resort noticed the very obvious large red stain above the Lady's foot because not 5 minutes after getting back to our room, a member of security showed up (unrequested but very welcome) with a first aid kit to see if they could help out.

    For what that's worth, our level of concern regarding our safety and such while visiting the Tamarijn isn't all that high.
    We feel pretty good about the place and the folks there.
    Fortunately we've never had to use the medical or emergency services on the island, but people we know that have always report a good experience.
    Mr. Ratt
    "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got..."
    Aruba.... May 12, 2018... 3pm at the Tamarijn, see you there.
    http://www.heyoka-healing.com




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