September 27, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Kos: woman dies due to lack of ambulances

A 63-year-old woman died in the back of a farm pickup truck on her way to Kos hospital as there was no ambulance to take her to the hospital.

On June 4, the woman was at her granddaughter’s birthday party when she fainted. Her family called for an ambulance from the ΕΚΑΒ public service, but the only free car was taken by another patient. Then they called a private ambulance, but there was no doctor who could accompany her, the ANT1 TV channel reported on Tuesday.

Desperate, the family decided to take the woman to the hospital in a pickup truck. The orthodontist escorted her in an attempt to save her life, the police car driving ahead, clearing the way to the hospital. However, the woman died on the way to the hospital. In intensive care, doctors tried to save her for an hour, but in vain. An autopsy has not yet determined the woman’s cause of death.

The incident has caused a stir on the island of Kos in the eastern Aegean, where thousands of Greek and foreign tourists visit every summer.

One ambulance for more than 150,000 people

“Today her soul went to heaven from my hands, in a farmer’s car. In a farmer’s car, with a patrol car in front, leading us to open the road to the hospital. I don’t know if an ambulance would have helped. She was not there, since she was in Psalidi in connection with another incident. I am ashamed that in Kos in 2023 life and death are so cheap, cheaper than booking a hotel.” – wrote on social networks accompanying the 63-year-old orthodontist Yannis Mavrostomos.

It should be noted that two more ambulances donated by IOM and Fraport remain immobilized and inactive in the courtyard of the hospital in Platani, as there is no necessary team to operate them.

“Despite our constant interventions and appeals to the ΕΚΑΒ administration for three years, about the need to immediately hire rescuers to use two other ambulances in case two or three incidents occur at the same time, there was no answer,” – declared representative of the ΕΚΑΒ division in Kos Costas Zampis of the state broadcaster ERT just 15 days ago.

The problem with ambulances on the islands

Referring to the situation in most of the islands, where there is usually only one ambulance on duty 24 hours a day, ΕΚΑΒ staff president Giorgos Matiopoulos noted that during the summer months, most of the islands are reinforced by mainland medics to cover increased needs.

“We have emphasized many times that there is a problem with ΕΚΑΒ employees,” Matiopoulos said, pointing out that 11 people are needed to operate the ambulance all year round, 24 hours a day. “However, unfortunately quite often I have less than 10 employees,” he said. According to Skai TV, there are currently 7 permanent ambulance workers and 3 support staff on Kos.

“There are not enough lifeguards (on the islands), so we are trying to bring in personnel from the mainland to meet the needs,” added the president of ΕΚΑΒ, stressing, however, that there are problems in attracting personnel from the mainland for the short summer months, since the rent is extremely high, and the salaries of employees, on the contrary, are very low. “Even in the advertisements for the recruitment of support staff, the vacancies remain unfilled,” he stressed. “For this money, it is impossible to find people who want to work in the Ambulance on the island. every day, not only on Kos, but on almost all the islands – Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos – there is the same problem, which calls on the state to develop plans for the recruitment of permanent staff.”

“Not only in summer the demand is increasing due to tourism, more ambulances are needed in winter as well,” Matiopoulos said. “We have been facing this problem for 15-20 years.”

Regarding the death of a woman who was not given first aid before arriving at the hospital, he stressed that rescuers are trained, as “they can act at the scene, provide first aid and safely transport victims to the first medical facility.”

There is only one ambulance on these islands, 24-hour shifts.

According to the hospital workers union POEDIN, every summer on the islands of the Aegean, due to the understaffing of ambulances, human lives are at risk! “Our islands are not only deprived of the medical protection of doctors and nurses, there are also not enough ambulances. Another summer, there is a significant shortage of EKAV rescuers on the large islands of the Aegean,” POEDIN said in a statement released after the tragic incident on the island of Kos.

According to data released by POEDIN, the islands of Kalymnos, Kos, Leros, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Samos, Syros, Santorini and Tinos currently have only one ambulance, which is on duty 24 hours a day. At the same time, in the summer, the number of inhabitants on these islands can reach 150 thousand.

In Chios and Ikaria, there is not enough staff for a second ambulance in all shifts. On Ios, Karpathos and Kythira, the ΕΚΑΒ ambulance with 1-2 rescuers works for about 8 hours. “How many more human lives will be at risk to make a decision about adequate staffing of ΕΚΑΒ with specialized personnel on our islands?”, – declared POEDIN President Michalis Giannakos.

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