The first prosecution witness in the Cassiel Ato Forson €2.37 million financial loss case has told the High Court in Accra that the ambulances imported in 2015/2016 did not meet basic standards and specifications.
Acting Director of Operations at the National Ambulance Service (NAS), Dr. Forster Ansong-Bridjan, told Her Ladyship Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe’s Court that the ambulances were without any fitted lights for operations, and that the patient trolley was also too low and without seatbelts.
Submitting his main testimony to the Court, Dr. Ansong-Bridjan also observed that the attendant’s seat fitted at the head of the patient’s trolley, a swivel chair, had not been formerly fitted; and that the other seats at the side of the trolley were fitted too low and would not have afforded the paramedics the comfort they needed to work.
According to the Acting Operations Chief, cabinets meant to contain medications and other consumables in the ambulance were made with sharp metallic edges which could easily cause injury to the occupants while their drawers were neither tight nor self-locking. Also, absent from the ambulances were medical equipment relative to;
(i) Patient monitoring equipment including patient monitor, blood pressure monitor, stethoscope, glucometer, pulse oximeter, among others.
(ii) Resuscitation equipment including bag valve mask, suction machine, portable ventilator and an automatic external defibrillator.
(iii) Immobilisation equipment, including a spine board, splints of various types or sizes, head block and cervical collars.
According to Dr. Ansong-Bridjan, the seats in the driver compartment were also made with material which could not easily be cleaned without soaking water. The emergency numbers were also missing from the body of the ambulances.
The word “ambulance”, supposed to have been written in reverse order, had also not been done while the red, gold and green colouring was also loosely done, according to the witness.
Dr. Forster Ansong-Bridjan told the Court that the findings and recommendations from their observations were communicated in a report to the Health Minister at the time through the NAS Chief Executive.
Subsequent to that, the witness said they were asked to move the ambulances from State House to Airforce Base at Burma Camp.
Under cross-examination, however, Dr. Ansong-Bridjan admitted that he did not know the specifications of the ambulances as detailed by Government’s contract. At the same time, he insisted that there were basic standards expected of an ambulance, which the contentious ones lacked.
“Every ambulance should contain basic equipment so that anybody who sees it will know that this is an ambulance”, he told the Court.
The case has been adjourned to June 3, 2022, at 12noon for continuation.