LOCAL High schools wishing to purchase stretchers as part of their medical equipment for football matches could be called on to fork out as much as $70,000 plus tax. The two types of stretchers used are the wheeled (gurney, trolley, bed or cart) or the basic cot that must be carried by two or more people. The issue of having stretchers as part of schools’ medical equipment at matches was thrown into the spotlight on Tuesday, when Dominic James, captain of St George’s College, collapsed during a Manning Cup match against Excelsior High at the Stadium East field. The player was lifted off the field by four men. The 18-year-old, who would have celebrated his 19th birthday on Monday, was seen by medical staff from the school then transported to the University Hospital of the West Indies, where he died. Checks done by The Gleaner yesterday revealed that the best stretchers are not available in bulk locally, and it could take up to six weeks to get supplies from overseas. Jamaica Hospital Supplies, which sells health care equipment and supplies for hospitals in the Corporate Area, said the demand for stretchers went up after James’ sudden death. The manual stretchers (cots) are the length-wise fold type and could cost up to $63,100 plus tax. According to a senior employee, who wished to remain anonymous, they were down to just 10 stretchers. “There has been a spike in orders since yesterday,” the employee said, adding that schools were among the institutions rushing to place orders. Another Corporate Area-based firm, Medical Disposables and Supplies Limited, said they wouldn’t have a vast quantity of stretchers in stock, but once schools submit an order, they could source the equipment. Managing Director Mertis Boothe said if a school needed a stretcher, the institution would be asked to decide on the type it would need. “We would have to bring them in as they are not manufactured in Jamaica,” Boothe said. SPIKE IN DEMAND
Canal No1 flooding…say flooding could have been avoidedBy Lakhram BhagiratFor the residents of lower Canal Number One, on the West Bank of the Demerara, the regional authorities have failed them, and they are calling for swift action to alleviate their sufferings.Additionally, the residents are saying that the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), which is responsible for the maintenance of the main canal, has not cleared it since late November, hence the reason for the current flooding in the area.Canal Number One Polder has been flooded since December 20, with the water receding during low tide — which is mainly in the nights — but returning to threatening levels in the mornings.“Every night we go to bed the water draw down, but when we wake up in theThreatening water level for this Canal familymorning, (there) is water everywhere. We can’t do anything because this water is killing we. The children them could not even enjoy them Christmas because of all this water,” Oku resident Dolly Singh related.The distressed woman explained that she has been living in the area for over 47 years and flooding has always been an issue, but this episode of flooding is comparable to the infamous 2005 Great Floods.“The drain; them need to clean the drains. You can see the moss deh out plenty,Another flooded homeand how long Dairy (La Parfaite Harmonie) water nah draw out, we water can never draw out. Them ah clean, but it is not properly done. We didn’t get flood for over a year now. This time the water very high, and we can’t cook or anything here,” she lamented.When Guyana Times visited the flood-affected communities on Friday, residentsResdients clearing this Canal after days of flood waterbashed the regional authorities for their plight. This publication observed several of the residents utilising their own resources to clear the weeds from the main canal in efforts to get some relief.Good Hope resident Vijai Ramnarine said he cannot quantify the amount of losses he has incurred. The man related that he is a large-scale farmer and all of hisAn inundated homefarmlands are under water. He stated that more than 90 per cent of the community’s population are farmers, and they are now left to assess their damages.“At present, we are suffering tremendously. This actual work that is going on here is the community is self-help. Those two tractors that are working there are private tractors, and we have had no help from the Government. We have been here since before Christmas trying to get some relief from the flood water,” he said.“The water in the farmland is at least three feet high. Instead of using our vans orFamily forced to stay indoors as flood water raisestractors to bring out loads from the backdam, we have to use a boat and the track; that is our current situation. There is no estimation for losses at this time, because we put a lot of money in that and it is still under water,” Ramnarine added.He detailed that he has tangerine trees planted only about three months ago, along with a number of avocado seedlings that have already been destroyed.“This canal supposed to be cleaned on a monthly basis. For this past December month, it has not been cleaned; and as you can see, the shrimp moss is in the water and it grows every single day. When it grows, it starts to wrap and form a ball so the water cannot penetrate through, so it remains stagnant. If this canal was cleaned, then this situation would not have happened here,” he stated.Another farmer, Maso (only name given), told Guyana Times that they have been under water for almost one week before the authorities thought it necessary to have visit the area and assess the situation. He noted that the Civil Defense Commission visited the area on Thursday to assess but added that they are not providing any plans on how to get the water off the land.“When you go to cut pine you have to go with boat to cut the pineapple under the water…these people bring one one mopstick and a hamper and give you here today (Friday). All this cause because if the negligence of the Government. Them not cleaning the canal,” the angry man said.Medical responseA team from the Public Health Ministry visited the Manram Memorial Health Centre, in Canal Number One, to ensure it is equipped with the necessary drugs in the case of a possible outbreak, and to prevent flood-related illnesses.Regional Health Officer Ravindra Dudhnauth advised that persons residing in flood-affected areas should take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent flood-related illnesses. He detailed the specified methods to treat water, including boiling or adding bleach. He also advised that residents in the affected areas should avoid unnecessary contact with these flood waters.National Emergency MonitoringAdditionally, State Minister Joseph Harmon visited the community on Friday to distribute relief supplies. At his post-Cabinet press briefing, Harmon indicated that the National Emergency Monitoring System remains activated on a 24-hour basis, with the ten administrative regions being actively monitored.He added that monitoring is being conducted via social media, television, HF radios, and mobile and landline telephones, to ensure that there is a timely and effective response to any incident with respect to the heavy rainfall.While all of the regions have been affected by the rainfall, Minister Harmon noted that several farmlands and some 200 households in Region Three — Essequibo Islands/West Demerara — were inundated as a result of clogged drains.“Since the initial impact, an assessment was done, and heavy-duty equipment, machinery and so on were deployed on December 26th  to the Canal. Additionally, all efforts were made to ensure that the pumps and kokers remain operational, to ensure maximum release of water to prevent the situation from worsening,” he detailed.Minister Harmon said there have been minimal reports of flooding in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), with two reports of five inches of water being accumulated in the Albouystown, South and North Ruimveldt areas, and minor flooding along the East Coast.The greatest accumulation of water, Minister Harmon pointed out, was on empty lots in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice). However, he noted that reports have indicated that the water is receding from all areas except Bush Lot.