Hypertension the highest cause for emergency calls in Antigua

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By Latrishka Thomas

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) witnessed a surge in demand for urgent medical assistance in 2023 and hypertension took the cake.

From January 1 to December 17, the EMS responded to 15,629 calls, revealing an average of approximately 42 calls per day.

This uptick is a 9 percent increase from the previous year’s 14,318 calls.

Shawn Greenidge, the Head of the Emergency Medical Services, underscored the gravity of this trend sharing that In 2021, the EMS fielded 13,200 calls, and the year 2020 witnessed 12,834 calls, indicating a steady progression in the need for rapid and effective medical interventions.

Delving into the specifics of the calls, hypertension emerges as the leading cause, with a staggering 1,324 calls.

Other health emergencies trailing behind include: abdominal pain at 780, respiratory distress with 549 calls, chest pain at 510, hyperglycemia registering 487, and motor vehicle accidents accounting for 444.
Beyond individual health concerns, a combined total of 7,786 calls were made for incidents spanning fire emergencies, suicide attempts, dehydration, and psychiatric episodes.

Unfortunately, 108 individuals were found dead on arrival this year, a slight decrease from the 118 recorded in 2022.

Greenidge emphasized that while some calls result in no findings after assessment, a significant number—3,460—may be transferred for further examination.

The distribution of calls across months is also noteworthy, with January topping the list at 1,590, followed by November with 1,531, and March with 1,479.

Meanwhile, among challenges faced by the EMS, Greenidge noted a small number of prank calls and a concerning trend of individuals using the ambulance service to bypass hospital queues.

Greenidge urged the public to refrain from such practices. “We are asking them to desist of this practice because when we have a true emergency the ambulance would be occupied with something minor.

Every emergency that you call us we have to respond to,” he said.

Currently, the EMS operates with 61 dedicated workers, nine ambulances, and three rapid response vehicles to meet the growing demand for emergency medical services.

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