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May 12, 2020

Was Ambulance Driver Justified in Sunday’s Frightening Ordeal?

The sighting of heavily armed police officers with guns drawn at an ambulance transporting a patient has triggered debate and raised questions about the driver of vehicle as well as the police. There is the matter of the risk to the life of the patient as well as the behaviour of the cops at the checkpoint at Hattieville. The driver of the ambulance has given an account that does not support the explanation of the Commissioner of Police. Today, we sought out a trained emergency medical technician for his perspective on what is known of Sunday’s incident. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report. 


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The actions of Blaine Caliz, driver of an ambulance believed to have gone rogue on Sunday afternoon, have been called into question, despite the Managing Director of Southern Emergency Services standing behind the professionalism and training of her EMT staff.  Javier Canul is an emergency medical technician with over seventeen years of experience in the field.


Javier Canul

Javier Canul, Owner, ABC Life Support

“We have encountered areas where we try to work with the police because most of the time we need the police.  If we go to a crime scene, we need the police.  If we’re traveling on the road and we come upon an accident scene we have to work with the police.  So we try to create a close knit with the police and as a result of that courtesy developed and the police allowed us, whenever they see us coming with our lights and our sirens.”


According to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, the ambulance driver was anything but competent in the manner in which he comported himself during the incident.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“If you listen to the driver in the video, he was very disrespectful and again I can say that the officers were very professional in not following him up.  After he had dropped off the patient and went back to Hopkins, we communicated with him with a view to get an explanation from him and he made it outright that he is not going to speak with us, that he doesn’t need to answer to no question from the police.  So the driver has a stinking attitude and these are things that cannot be countenanced because he cannot believe that because he is an ambulance driver he can break the law and must go unpunished. It cannot work.”


From the company’s end, Managing Director Sandra Hrysak says that if the police had any suspicion or had been fed intelligence of something untoward taking place onboard the ambulance, a simple call to dispatch could have cleared up any misconception.


Sandra Hrysak

Sandra Hrysak, Managing Director, Southern Emergency Services

“Our locals are on the side of the ambulance, the officers at the first two check stops had the opportunity to phone dispatch to say, “Do you have a unit going to Belize City?  That would have cleared up all the misunderstandings and we would have been able to say, “Yes, we picked up a patient here, we’re going to here, you’ll see the ambulance.  No call was ever made to dispatch, nothing came in and we did not know anything about those allegations until the formal statement from ComPol yesterday.”


Likewise, Canul, a former director with the Belize Emergency Response Team, BERT, says that pulling over at the checkpoint would not have resulted in a significant loss of time when compared to taking a blood pressure reading.


Javier Canul

“The police, however, would have the option to slow down an ambulance, talk to them quickly, let them know what’s happening and you as that ambulance personnel who is a medic, I don’t like to call people ambulance drivers because in reality they are medics or they should be, be courteous with the police and say we’re taking a patient and everything is okay.  So, doing that would be like thirty seconds to a minute, versus pulling over on the side to take a blood pressure [reading] which would take about five to eight minutes, come on.”


That point seems to be corroborated by the ComPol Williams.


Chester Williams

“Ambulance drivers need to understand that they don’t have a license to just bust through checkpoint and drive a hundred miles per hour.  It is just a courtesy that the police extend to them and with that the Ministry of Health said that they will try to streamline how these private ambulance operate, to bring them in line with how the Ministry of Health’s ambulances operate.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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