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Is Chua Soi Lek happy with 30-minute response time for hospital ambulances?

Media Statement (2) 
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Friday) : Although not surprised, I am nonetheless outraged that the Selangor Health Department is in cohoots with the Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang in a “cover-up” of the shocking incident on Dec. 13 over the tardy dispatch of an ambulance immediately after receiving a call about an accident near the Batu Tiga toll, causing the avoidable death of the accident victim, Mohd Yusry.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Selangor Health Department’s health director, Dr. Ang Kim Teng said investigations revealed that Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang had despatched an ambulance immediately after receiving a call from businesswoman Zara Davies Abdul Rahman about an accident near the Batu Tiga toll (Elite Highway) on Dec 13. Ang said investigations revealed the following:

  • The hospital's call centre received a call for ambulance at 1.52pm on Dec13;
  • Subsequently, a call was made to Zara by the ambulance crew at 1.57pm to clarify the location of the accident. The ambulance was despatched immediately after that;
  • At 2.06pm, the centre received another call from Zara enquiring whether an ambulance had been despatched. The centre specifically informed her that it was already on its way and will take some time to arrive due to heavy traffic and the distance from the hospital. This conversation was recorded in the centre's record system.
  • At 2.36pm, Zara again made a call to the centre requesting for directions to the hospital. She was given the assistance and arrived at the emergency department at 2.44 pm. The closed circuit TV recording showed the staff on duty had promptly pushed a trolley and followed behind Zara to fetch the victim from the car.

Ang said: "From the above, it is clear that we have promptly responded to the call for ambulance, and it is not true that Zara waited for more than an hour for the ambulance.

"It was also not true that she was told that the ambulance had not been sent as our audio recordings indicated otherwise," Ang said.

"We hope this clarification will lay to rest the allegations by Zara on the failure of the ambulance to arrive as she had already left the scene before the ambulance arrived.

"The Klang Hospital and other hospitals in the state would continue to strive for speedy response to all ambulance calls bearing in mind that distance and traffic conditions sometimes hamper our efforts to reach the scene speedily."

The Health Minister, Datuk Chua Soi Lek has also been reported in the Chinese press as saying that the ambulance arrived within 30 minutes of the call, but Zara had already left the accident scene with the victim, but “lost her way” in the journey to the Klang General Hospital.

Zara has rebutted both Ang and Chua in her email, which I reproduce below. I wish to state my shock and outrage, however that Chua seemed to be happy with the 30-minute response time of the Klang General Hospital ambulance according to his account, when the Health Ministry’s director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican had said any ambulance response time that was longer than 15 minutes was unacceptable.

This is Zara’s email in response:

Finally after almost 2 weeks since the accident involving the late Mohd Yusry the Minister and the Director of the Selangor Health Department have finally sent out their response. (Far too little , too late).

Mine are not allegations. My point of view is closely related to my experiences on the 13th of December 2006 @ 1:30 pm and have been related fairly and accurately.

The fact that the Ministry does not have a set standard procedure or code of practice for our emergency response system has been confirmed by the Ministry comments printed in The Sun.

The fact that they have not looked at the strategic placement of hospitals and deployment of ambulances too has been confirmed in the same article by virtue of the accepted fact that the said ambulance was delayed because of a traffic jam.

It has also been confirmed that the Klang Hospital takes 5 whole minutes to call me to repeat the location of the accident from the time they received the emergency call ( 1:52 pm - 1:57 pm).

Have both the Minister and the Selangor Health Department Director realized the facts which they have confirmed today??

Why are they not appalled?

Maybe they have no use for an ambulance from a government hospital (at least not yet. Everyone will at some point in time need this service).

I suppose too, that by virtue of the fact that I'm a woman I must have gotten lost. The fact that I rang up the Hospital to request directions was because I knew that under such desperate circumstances the most foolish thing would be to get lost. Hence my call for directions was one done to confirm the exact whereabouts of the hospital, therefore we did not get lost. (I have navigated my way from Canada to Mexico and through 5 European countries. I can certainly find the Klang Hospital!) It took me about 15 minutes to get to Klang Hospital.

The camera footage which is referred by the Minister and Director to shows the Hospital Aide walking behind me after I had procured a trolley and only probably covers the actual car park area of the emergency entrance and not where the trolleys are kept.

No sane person would leave the scene of an accident with the victim when the ambulance was on its way. Why did the hospital fail to make it clear to me that an ambulance is coming ??

As far as I recall, I never once spoke to an ambulance dispatch driver. My conversations where with some snooty male hospital staff who manned the control room, whom I met after having delivered the dead body of Mohd Yusry to the A & E.

This man, then promptly left his post when I asked for his name and questioned him why an ambulance had not been sent out. Even then, in the hospital he failed to confirm that an ambulance had been dispatched.

Mere communication breakdown ?

If a mere communication breakdown is all it takes to foil a rescue attempt by the hospital then the Minister definitely needs to re-evaluate the whole emergency response system. And create a standard procedure that has ambulances at the location of the emergency, in less than 15 minutes.

This is an integral part of the Health Care System not to be left to chance and the Minister should know it and not simply brush it off.

Does he want to be part of the problems with our society or does he want to be part of the solution ?

Please ask him this YB, Please.

May this young man be the last person to wait for an ambulance that takes some 30 min to reach him (if it was ever sent out at all, only God really knows).

Kindest regards, Zara Davies Abdul Rahman

Chua should give a proper response to Zara’s rebuttal.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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