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Sep 1, 2016

BERT Workers Contemplate Future; Money Dispute Shuts Doors of Emergency Service

Who will the former employees of Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT) work for, apart from the residents of the Belize District? That is the question tonight after the ambulance emergency service established seventeen years ago seemed to shut its doors on Wednesday claiming that it was unable to further fund its service without additional finance from the Government of Belize. Correspondent Aaron Humes was up early with the E.M.T.’s as they awaited their fate at the Central Health Region this morning.


Javier Canul, Training Coordinator, BERT

“We are not expecting the Government to do anything. The Government told us that we must report here on the first of September, because they don’t have the finance to give us to bring up the staff that we need.”


Aaron Humes, Reporting

…And that’s why this morning ambulances came screeching down Coney Drive, headed for Princess Margaret Drive and the old Bliss School of Nursing, which now houses the offices of the Central Health Region. Except that these ambulances were not in operation, because their operators are not yet sure whether they still have a job, or who they have a job with. But emergencies do not have a way of respecting persons. And just after eight, a few emergency medical technicians (EMT)’s came out of the second-floor office of the Region’s manager to respond to a call about a traffic accident in the Faber’s Road area. Fortunately, it turned out not to be serious.  But what is a serious matter is that there is an impasse in relation to a potential agreement that would keep the status quo while giving BERT more room to work with. According to EMT and office assistant Barbara Martinez, there was and is nothing in writing.


Barbara Martinez

Barbara Martinez, Office Assistant/E.M.T., BERT

“He did not come with an agreement. He came with I think, I believe, we will look into it. But it is unfair that he said we thought we had an agreement or at least I did when I left the office on Monday. How could he have thought we had an agreement when there was nothing on the table to sign? Miss Burke told him put that in writing. That was the only stuff he thought was an agreement, I believe.  The question was asked by Miss Burke so what then if we do not agree to these terms. Doctor Manzanero said the staff and the ambulances go to Central Region and report to such and such; so that’s what we did. When it comes to the billing situation that he said that we came up with – no…they came up with that situation. They came to the office, went through the papers and they put a price on each emergency run that they were going to pay us. Not us, not Burke; they put the price.”


BERT, according to Martinez and Canul, has steadily been losing workers to Government service due to higher pay rates, and they have had to shift around workers on sick leave and part-time from other jobs. The Government is only willing to pay additional funding equivalent to what keeps the nine E.M.T.’s on staff as well as the eighteen-thousand dollar monthly subvention.  BERT wants enough to be able to bring its staff back up to sixteen E.M.T.’s, not including support staff.


Javier Canul

Javier Canul

 “It is not a mismanagement of funds. I want to make that crystal clear…this dah noh wah mismanagement of funds. The office is still open; the building is still there and we have all the paper work and every patient sheet that we have…it tells you about how we do patient care and every single thing that follows with that. So I want to make that crystal clear that this was not a mismanagement of funds, but we were soliciting and asking the government to help us to provide us so that we can have more employees—and bring it up to sixteen—so that we can work comfortably. And this is what this is all about. It boils down to the fact that government say, we can only pay you for your nine employees. We cannot give you additional funds to hire your sixteen employees and so I noh think that make sense because if you look around, BERT totally burned out.”


The workers were left to wait in the Central Health Region conference room as Director of Health Services Doctor Marvin Manzanero made his way down from Belmopan to settle their fate. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “BERT Workers Contemplate Future; Money Dispute Shuts Doors of Emergency Service”

  1. Sammy says:

    This is what our country is coming to where a person life does not matter anymore once we are saving a couple dollars. Doctor manzanero is very very very liad and a greedy person all he cares about is himself. He cannot allocate more money to pay for an essential service that the tax payers who pays his lavish salary monthly need just so that he can line is pockets with all the allowances he is getting. Government needs to look into all those doctors like him that are getting paid a none practicing allowance and still works at private facilities and seeing patients at their home for a fee. Those monies can pay the staff of BERT so they can do their job. Its seems that the whole country needs to suffer because of his incompetence . That ass needs to be move from that position which not only he does not academically qualified for but also that he micro manages everything. He is bringing the health system down. His small mindedness and lack of vision will be the cause of many lives being lost. The ministry need someone better for that post. He hated and bad mouth Dr Pitts for the job and not to mention how many asses he kiss and suck and how many persons he undermine to get where he is at and still prove to be incompetent. He dictates to the C.E.O. what he thinks need to be done and the C.E.O. seems that he does not have a brain of his own goes along with what that fools says. Bet you if it’s was his partner Caleb Orosco he would have gotten all the money he needed and more.

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