Ambulance Service to engage 900 additional staff

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has received financial clearance from the Ministry of Finance to recruit 900 additional staff in 2020.

The recruitment will help augment the staff strength of the service and facilitate the operationalisation of the One-constituency, One-ambulance policy of the government.

The recruits will be made up of different professionals, such as drivers and paramedics, categorised under basic and advanced service providers.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NAS, Professor Ahmed Nuhu Zakariah, told the Daily Graphic in Accra on Thursday that the NAS required more hands to revamp emergency services delivery countrywide.

He said as part of efforts to ensure the effective use of the 307 ambulances the government had purchased, ambulance stations would be opened in all the constituencies, with each station requiring a minimum of 15 people for effective operation.

“We are starting with the 900 in 2020 to enable us to use the new ambulances in the short term,” he said.

Prof. Zakariah said the NAS had completed the recruitment of drivers through a public advertisement and an online application system, adding that they were scheduled to begin their one-year training, which includes hands-on practicals, at the Fire Academy from January 14, 2020.

He said the processes to engage the other professionals would begin as soon as possible.

The CEO said new staff who would provide basic services would undergo a one-year training, while the advanced service providers would undergo a two-year training to be facilitated by the National Ambulance Training School.

In-service training

Meanwhile, he said, a number of in-service training were currently ongoing for about 2,000 staff of the NAS to enhance their skills and ability to use the new ambulances.

Prof. Zakariah said since last Monday, drivers of the NAS had been having test drives of the ambulances to ascertain their performance and acquaint themselves with the features of the vehicles as part of the capacity-building efforts.

He said a special in-service training, to be facilitated by the manufacturer as part of the ambulance purchase contract, would start next week as part of measures to maintain and operate the fleet efficiently.

The NAS had cited the lack of requisite training and adequate human resource as one of the reasons for its appeal to the President to postpone the distribution of the 211 ambulances from January 6 to January 28, this year.

The CEO of NAS wrote to the Minister of Health to request for the postponement of the distribution of the ambulances, arguing that the lack of requisite training for staff and paramedics on the use of the ambulances and medical equipment was going to affect their effective use and operation.

Turn of events

In 2016, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), as part of its electioneering, promised to provide an ambulance for each constituency to revamp the NAS to improve health delivery.

In December 2018, the President announced that the government would deliver on its promise to procure the ambulances for every constituency in 2019.

The order was placed last year, after which a government delegation, led by the Minister of Special Development Initiatives, Ms Mavis Hawa Koomson, visited Turkey in June to inspect the progress of work on the manufacture of the ambulances.

Towards the end of September 2019, the Ministry of Special Initiatives took delivery of the first batch of 48 new ambulances out of the 307.

The second and third batches were delivered in October and December 2019.

Currently, the government has taken delivery of 211 out of the 307 ambulances and the last batch will be delivered by the close of this month.

At a Presidential media engagement in December last year, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had assured the public that the ambulances would be distributed on January 6, 2020.

The Ministry of Special Development Initiatives, which is in charge of the project, later announced that it was unlikely the distribution would be done on January 6 because some key prerequisites, such as the embossment of constituency names, the fixing of tracking systems and the preparation of receiving points for a number of the ambulances, had to be completed.

Mr Kelly Brown

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