Oct. 22--ST. THOMAS -- An ambulance on St. Thomas once again is out of commission.
The V.I. Fire Service received a report Sunday afternoon that one of the St. Thomas ambulances started smoking from under the hood and possibly was on fire.
When firefighters responded, they found the ambulance broken down on the side of the road near Lindbergh Bay, St. Thomas-St. John Fire Chief Andre Smith said Monday.
The ambulance, though it was in service, did not have a patient that it was serving at the time. Although it was not on fire or smoking, it was not in any shape to make house calls, either.
"There was a strong odor, like something had burned," Smith said.
The 8-year-old ambulance then was towed to undergo maintenance work, alongside several other ambulances reported under maintenance last week.
V.I. Health Department officials would not confirm how many working ambulances, and how many non-working ambulances, it had as of Monday.
"If an ambulance goes down, another comes," said David Sweeney, territorial emergency medical services coordinator.
Sweeney did not elaborate about where those ambulances would come from but said his department has back-up ambulances.
Sweeney said that he could not speculate about what would have happened if it had been serving a patient, perhaps one who was in a life or death situation.
"I cannot give you hypotheticals," he said. "No matter where you live, there will be time when you want an ambulance, and it won't be there when you need it."
The Health Department typically has two ambulances being used on St. Thomas and one on St. John at any given time, Sweeney said. Between St. Thomas and St. John, another spare two ambulances always are available, he said.
"We do regular maintenance," he said, noting that the maintenance on the ambulances is not just for when they quit working.
"I don't think there is a major concern," he said.
The Daily News reported last week that four ambulances were at Metro Motors for mechanical work. It was not clear whether the ambulance that was towed on Sunday was one of those or a fifth ambulance.
A number of emergency medical technicians formerly employed with Emergency Medical Services on St. Thomas, which is a division of the Health Department, said they resigned because of numerous problems in their department, including the maintenance of the ambulances.
The problem with the ambulance that broke down Sunday had to do with the vehicle's air-conditioning compressor, according to Sweeney.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email email@example.com.
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