Intl. NGO slams govt. over failures in Abaco

Intl. NGO slams govt. over failures in Abaco

Two dead in morning collision near Cooper’s Town

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An international humanitarian group has blasted the government over multiple failures in Abaco following deadly Hurricane Dorian.

Burke Bryant, president of Humanitarian Aid and Rescue Project (HARP) lashed out at the lack of critical health care support in a Facebook post following a fatal two-car collision on the island earlier today.

He underscored dire conditions that placed all non-governmental (NGO) workers and volunteers at risk after first responders waited more than two hours to medivac critically injured passengers.

Superintendent Craig Stubbs confirmed two men died, and another man was critically injured following a head-on collision shortly after 7 a.m.

Stubbs said the accident took place just south of the Cooper’s Town community involving a blue Toyota Corolla with three occupants and a white Chevy Malibu with one driver.

The driver of the Toyota Corolla, and the rear seat passenger, were found unresponsive, and declared dead at the scene, Stubbs confirmed. The other two men were taken to the Cooper’s Town medical facility.

The remaining two people were stabilized, according to Bryant, who said responders had to wait nearly three hours for one man to be airlifted to Nassau.

“It took almost 3 hours to get air support,” Bryant said.

“Total bulls***. He was bleeding out. Time was critical and we had nothing.”

According to Bryant, the Toyota Corolla was headed from Sandy Point to the ferry in Cooper’s Town, while the Chevy Malibu was occupied by a Cooper’s Town resident headed to Marsh Harbour.

photo courtesy of Burke Bryant

In a Facebook post, Bryant wrote: “One had major head trauma, major lacerations, internal bleeding. Another had a broken femur and head trauma. We needed air support fast but no airport support! The earliest plane that could make it in was at 11.30am! That’s what we had to work with.

His post continued: “We made it happen but this is a complete failure of the government and Ministry of Health. To be on an island with one doctor and no air support is catastrophic at best. This puts all NGO workers and volunteers at risk as well.

“It’s time to slam the hammer down! Our hearts go out to those that were lost. We did our best.”

Bryant alleged there is only one licensed doctor on the entire island, a physician from humanitarian NGO Heart to Heart.

However, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands told Eyewitness News Online there are three doctors posted to the island at this time alongside medical teams from NGOs Americares, Heart to Heart, and Samaritan’s Purse.

Sands underscored medical evacuations of critically ill patients in the Family Islands have long presented significant challenges before the monster storm laid waste to portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1-3.

Sands said two ambulances will be deployed to Abaco this week.

In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, Bryant said the failures extended beyond the lack of support from the Ministry of Health, and also hit out at the lack of support from the National Emergency Management Agency, and wider government.

“The government has failed in so many levels here,” Bryant said.

“As has NEMA and MOH. We have no air support. We have no doctors. We have garbage cell signals so comms are sh**.”

He continued: “There are trucks in Nassau that have been sitting on a tarmac for two weeks for us to use for transport and they’re waiting on ‘decals’.

“There are trailers there as well waiting on a ribbon cutting ceremony.”

HARP was brought in following the catastrophic storm by Humanity First to manage logistics in Cooper’s Town, including the medical clinic. They got the facility up and running, and have maintained power, water, AC and cold chain – a temperature-controlled system of transporting and storing medical supplies.

Bryant told Eyewitness News Online the HARP’s three-member team has been on the ground in Abaco for 48 days, starting their days at 7 a.m. and ending at midnight.

He said they have made a commitment to the people of Cooper’s Town, and fear if they leave the support system provided will collapse.

“When we’re rapidly working on problems albeit, medical, repairs (engines, wells, cisterns,) and have to source our own solutions instead of getting direct support from the government.

“We’ve worked on over 400 people, two codes, one loss. All resources were sourced from other NGO’s.”

Bryant said: “We keep waiting for the government to step in and relieve us, but it has not happened.”

“I do believe we’re being taken advantage of at this point, and if not this government is absolutely clueless or not qualified for its position.”