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Kos: Woman dies on the back of pick up truck due to ambulance shortage

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

The woman was attending the birthday party of her granddaughter when she collapsed on Sunday, June 4.

Her family called the ambulance of the public service EKAV but the only available vehicle was dealing with another emergency incident. They then called a private ambulance, however, there was no doctor available to accompany her, ANT1 TV reported on Tuesday.

Seeking desperate a solution, the family decided to transport the woman to the hospital with a pick up truck. An orthodontist accompanied her, trying to keep her alive, a police car was opening the way, 5 km until the hospital.

However, the grandmother died on the way to the hospital.

Arriving there, doctors tried to revive her for one hour, but in vain.

An autopsy is yet to determine the causes of the woman’s death.

The incident caused an uproar on the island of Kos in the eastern Aegean Sea, a popular destination of thousands of domestic and foreign tourists every summer.

One ambulance for over 150,000 people!

“Today a soul left my hands, on a farmer’s cart. In a farmer’s cart, with a patrol car in front leading us to open the way to the hospital. I don’t know if the ambulance would have made a difference. He was not available as he was in Psalidi for another incident. I am ashamed that in Kos in 2023 life and death are so cheap, cheaper than hotel reservations” accompanying orthodontist Giannis Mavrostomos posted on social media.

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It should be noted that another two ambulances donated by IOM and Fraport remain immobilized and inactive in the courtyard of the the hospital in Platani,  as there is not the required crew to move them.

“Despite our continuous interventions and appeals to EKAV administration for three years, for the need to immediately hire rescuers, in order to move the other two ambulances in the event that two and three incidents occur at the same time, there was no response” the representative of the EKAV unit in Kos, Kostas Tsampis. told state broadcaster ERT just 15 days ago.

The drag with ambulances on the islands

Speaking about the situation prevailing on most islands where there is usually only one ambulance on 24-hour duty, the president of EKAV employees  Giorgos Mathiopoulos mentioned that during the summer months most islands are reinforced with rescuers from the mainland to cover the increased needs.

“We have emphasized many times that there is a problem with EKAV rescuers,” said Mathiopoulos, pointing out that 11 rescuers are needed to operate the ambulance all year round, 24 hours a day. “Unfortunately, however, quite often I have less than 10 rescuers,” he noted.

According to Skai TV, there are currently 7 permanent rescuers and 3 auxiliary staff for the ambulance on Kos.

“There are not enough rescuers (on the islands), so we are trying to get staff from the mainland to meet the needs,” the EKAV president added stressing, however, that there are problems to get staff from the mainland for the short summer months as rents are extremely high.

“Even in announcements for auxiliary staff, the positions remain unfilled” he stressed.

“Every month, on all days, not only in Kos, but in almost all the islands, the small islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, the same problem exists and calls on the state to make plans for permanent recruitment.

“It is not only during the summer that the needs are increased due to tourism as more ambulances are needed also in winter,” Mathiopoulos said noting that “we have been experiencing this problem for 15-20 years.”

Regarding the death of the 63-year-old grandmother who did not receive first aid until she arrived at the hospital, he emphasized that the rescuers are trained as “they can operate at the scene, give first aid and safely transport the injured to the first medical facility. So, trained rescuers are needed.”

These islands are with only one ambulance on a 24-hour shift

According to hospital workers union POEDIN, every summer human lives are at risk in the Aegean islands, due to the under-staffing of the ambulances!

“Our islands are not only without health protection from doctors and nurses, but also from the lack of ambulances. For one more summer, there are significant shortages of EKAV rescuers on major Aegean islands”, POEDIN noted in a statement issued after the tragic incident on Kos.

According to POEDIN data made public Kalymnos, Kos, Leros, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Samos, Syros, Santorini and Tinos currently have just one ambulance on a 24-hour duty.

On Chios and Ikaria the staff is not sufficient for a second ambulance in all shifts.

On Ios, Karpathos and Kythira the EKAV ambulance with 1-2 rescuers operates for some 8 hours.

“How many human lives will still be at risk to decide on the adequate staffing of the EKAV with specialized personnel on our islands?”, president of POEDIN, Michalis Giannakos reportedly emphasized.

Daily recently also reported of the big shortage of hospital staff on the islands.

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