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Mar 27, 2020

BERT Ambulance is Prepared & Ready for COVID-19

The novel coronavirus has spread so quickly that the United States is now the country with the highest number of cases and the pandemic is wreaking havoc with the death toll climbing rapidly. The Ministry of Health here has been preparing to contain any outbreak of COVID-19 and all hands are on deck as we face the grave risks ahead. Today, News Five’s Duane Moody checked in at BERT to find out how ready its emergency response team is.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Concerns over the safety of frontline workers continue to mount as the reality of a COVID-19 outbreak in Belize sets in. While there are only two confirmed cases to date on the island of Ambergris Caye, it is believed that it is a matter of time for a case to be confirmed on the mainland. But as we found out today, emergency medical technicians attached to the Belize Emergency Response Team, better known as BERT, are ready.


Andre Carrillo

Andre Carrillo, Executive Director, BERT

“BERT has been around for a little more than twenty years so an incident, a situation like this, the pandemic that is affecting the world globally, we are prepared for this, we have been trained for this. And so we are doing minor adjustments at BERT to split our crews into two so we will have one crew that will be responding to general emergencies and then another crew that will be dedicated solely to COVID-19 response calls and that will be just the COVID-19 response calls that come into us.”


BERT’s Executive Director, Andre Carrillo also sits on the COVID-19 National Oversight Committee. He says that with support from international donors, such as Rotary International and in collaboration with the Rickilee Response and Rescue Team and others, they are ready to serve the country. There are currently eighteen EMTs and twenty trained volunteers at BERT. Aside from personal protective equipment, the institution has also set aside an ambulance that will be used solely to transport infected patients. The nine others will be used to respond to the normal emergency calls.


Andre Carrillo

“So far we must express our gratitude to the Ministry of Health. We have received a donation from the government; we did get personal protective equipment and that will allow our COVID-19 team to be able to transfer patients in a safe way.”


Duane Moody

“I understand that also a bus has been set aside to deal with only that.”


Andre Carrillo

“Yes, we have one ambulance that is prepared to do all transfers that’s related to COVID-19. So all other emergency responses that we do, we will continue to do so and because we now have two operations at BERT—one that looks at general emergencies—we will ensure that there is no cross-examination for patients.”


Even as BERT is carrying out an essential service, the overall safety of the staff and the country on a whole is concerning. Carrillo asks that the public works along with them.


Andre Carrillo

“We would like to remind the public that BERT is here for true emergencies and so if the COVID-19 virus gets out of control in Belize, it could easily constrain all our public facilities, including BERT. So we would like to public to exercise caution when you are calling us. If it is a true emergency, call us for a true emergency, but if you have time to deal with the situation earlier on, make that decision earlier on so that you don’t constrain the emergency services.”


Duane Moody 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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