Locally modified Sea Ambulance launched for operation

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A 24 feet fiberglass boat, locally modified and transformed into a Sea Ambulance launched for operation today by the Permanent Secretary of Health Mrs Pauline McNeil.

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The modifications and transformation into a Sea Ambulance was made possible through the creativity and innovative thinking of St John Ambulance team under the leadership of Douglas Kelson and in partnership with Guadalcanal Provincial Health team, Pacific Casino Hotel and the Development Bank of Solomon Islands.

Being the first to deliver remarks, Mr Kelson thanked all those involved in the transformation of the boat to what it is, stating that St John Ambulance is very pleased to have taken the lead in its modifications.

“It is our passion to serve the health needs of our people mainly with transporting the sick to the hospital for medical attention and so far we have been doing for communities with road access across the Guadalcanal. The challenge of getting those without road access had pushed us to think outside of the box and come up with the idea of developing this Sea Ambulance”, stated Mr Kelson.

Michael Leong Managing Director and Owner of the Pacific Casino Hotel, one of the sponsors of the Sea Ambulance Project explained that such a good public Sea Ambulance is an important investment, one that my company is very pleased to be supporting as it will save lives and comfortably transport the sick to the hospital.

 “ As such Pacific Casino was pleased to have provided the necessary space required for the modifications to be carried out and we have also been supporting the St John Ambulance every now and then in little ways to ensure that the important service they provide is continuous. It has been an honour to be part of this success and will continue to provide support where needed”, stated Mr Leong.

Mr Tukana Bovoro of the Solomon Islands Development Bank, also a sponsor of the project expressed pleasure in the bank’s involvement in the project.

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 “We can all appreciate the critical role played by St John Ambulance in saving lives through their work of transporting the sick to the hospital for immediate medical treatment. This the bank recognizes thus was very pleased to sponsor the 40 horse powered engine, safety equipment and the modification work itself. It has been a pleasure indeed to have supported this live saving project”.

Initially the Guadalcanal Province Health Office procured the fiberglass for its operations however due to its deteriorating condition was no longer used.

Nevertheless, with its revival, Director of Nursing Guadalcanal Province Mr. Moses Garuni who was filled with thanks, acknowledged St John Ambulance and all stakeholders involved in the transformation of the boat, what would have been a waste, has now been converted into a Sea Ambulance. He highlighted the benefits of having such a sea transport.

 “Once functional its benefits will immediately be felt. No longer will pregnant mothers who have difficulty in labour struggle to find a comfortable position for hours, no longer will the boy with a fractured leg scream every wave that tossed the unfitted rural clinic boat mercilessly while being transported to the hospital. Our people who are sick can now, lay comfortably under the shade of the canopy of the boat that is fitted with an emergency drug cabinet, communications equipment and emergency specific markings. Even relatives and nurse to accompany the patient have proper seats”.

He added that this is a significant milestone in the provinces’ s continuous endeavour to improve the transportation of emergency cases from rural clinics to the appropriate referral centres.

Health Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil in delivering her key note address shared a recent personal story of close family members who had to encounter the discomfort of travelling on the normal boats to seek medical treatment in nearby health facility in Choiseul. She highlighted that this is no different to people in the weather coast and parts of Guadalcanal that have no roads for vehicles to access.

“As such the launching of the Sea Ambulance today is significant because it marks a new beginning in our chapter in providing improved health care services to our people transported to nearest health facilities by sea. Logistics is in fact a component of the outcome of the Ministry of Health’s Role Delineation Plan thus health is very excited with this new development and will work harder to ensure we can also have sea ambulances across our islands”.

She also announced that discussions are now underway with the New Zealand High Commission to acquire six (6) additional Sea Ambulances.

The Sea Ambulance will commence operation as of today.

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