EMERGENCY AND AMBULANCE SERVICES IN THE BAHAMAS

AT-A-GLANCE

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY DIAL 919

  • 911 has also been made accessible for North American tourists
  • The Bahamas have over 700 islands (about 30 are inhabited) with most emergency medical services concentrated in the capital Nassau (New Providence) and Grand Bahama
  • On many of the islands there are no formal emergency services, but for those that are populated services are available

EMS Coverage Map: Bahamas
EMS Coverage Map: The Bahamas

Return to the Global EMS Database home page

nema-hurricane-number_bhs

HOW CAN I CALL AN AMBULANCE IN THE BAHAMAS?

HOW DO I CALL FOR HELP?

DIAL 919 TO CALL AN AMBULANCE IN THE BAHAMAS

  • 911 is also possible for North American tourists
CAN I CALL FOR HELP ANYWHERE?

Yes, but getting help is the challenge. The Bahamas are an archipelago of over 700 islands. Many of the islands have no emergency medical services and can only be reached by helicopter or boat. Outside of New Providence and Grand Bahama islands, it’s important to research ahead of time the best way to find help.

WHAT OTHER EMERGENCY NUMBERS CAN I CALL?

919 connects you to ambulance, police and fire.

911 will do the same, available because of the large number of North American tourists visiting.

BAHAMAS HYPERBARIC CENTER: (242) 362-5765 OR (242) 422-2434

 

SEARCH AND RESCUE IN THE BAHAMAS

  • BASRA – Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association – (242) 325-8864 / (242) 322-741
    • BASRA is a non-profit response organization operating in the Bahamas since 1960. BASRA “currently operates two vessels for search and rescue missions. These vessels cost $250 per hour to operate and missions range anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. We do not require those rescued to reimburse this fee as we are in the business of saving lives and operate as a non-profit charity.

 

DISASTER RESPONSE

WHAT ABOUT IN DISASTERS?

919 should be called to request emergency assistance in a disaster. To find out updated advisory information in case of disaster or complex emergencies, there’s:

ARE THE RESPONDERS TRAINED?

With respect to the training requirements for the various staff levels, the N.E.M.S follows the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National EMS Education Standards for Emergency Medical Responder, EMT, Advanced EMT and Paramedic training. Our technicians post training would sit the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification examination or a state licensing examination and would have to be registered and licensed with the Heath Professions Council of the Bahamas.  The Dispatchers are trained through the United States National Academies of Emergency Medical Dispatch as Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatchers.

[Source: Public Hospitals Authority – National Emergency Medical Services, Last accessed: July 31, 2017]

HOW WILL I GET TRANSPORTED?
 Depending on where you are, you may be transported by ambulance, boat or helicopter.
GROUND TRANSPORT: “All ambulance drivers must be EST-2 and are also required to be certified under the US Emergency Vehicle Operation Course. …For those who have insurance or who can afford to pay, air ambulances are accessible on a continuous basis.” (Ezenkwele, 2001)
AIR MEDICAL TRANSPORT – Can be arranged via a number of air medical evacuation and patriating companies in the Bahamas and Florida (USA). Please see our map or the “Other Emergency Numbers” section above.
WHERE WILL I BE TRANSPORTED TO?

There are three main hospitals in the Bahamas with dedicated Accident & Emergency Departments which also service as the base station for ambulances in the Bahamas (see map above):

  • Public
    • Princess Margaret Hospital (Nassau)
    • Rand Memorial Hospital (Freeport)
  • Private
    • Doctors Hospital (Nassau)
HOW WILL I PAY?

93% of healthcare in the Bahamas is covered by the government, with 7% through revenue collection (Sweeting, 2015):

  • Visitors: 97% of visitors pay full bill
  • Non-Visitors
    • 20% pay a registration fee only
    • about 70% pay less than half of their bill
    • 1% pays full bill

ADDITIONAL INFO

COMMON EMERGENCIES AND VACCINATIONS

Common Emergencies in the Bahamas

  • Hurricanes
  • Drownings
  • Shark attacks
  • Zika Virus is also a risk in the Bahamas: 
    Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions

    Read the CDC’s Zika Travel Notice in the Bahamas

 

Vaccinations for the Bahamas

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), different groups of travelers will require different vaccinations for travel in the Bahamas:

  • All Travelers:
    • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
    • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
    • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
    • Polio vaccine
    • Your yearly flu shot
  • Most Travelers:
    • Hepatitis A
    • Typhoid
  • Some Travelers:
    • Hepatitis B
    • Rabies
    • Yellow Fever – “There is no risk of yellow fever in The Bahamas. The government of The Bahamas requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. This does not include the US.” See full list here.

Read more about travel in the Bahamas at the CDC website:  https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/the-bahamas (Last accessed: Aug. 7, 2017)

HISTORY

1949 – First ground ambulance is implemented in Bahamas, attached to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH)

1965Yarmouth Castle Cruise Ship Fire: 90 people are killed (87 drowned) when a fire breaks out and sinks the cruise ship en route from Miami to Nassau. 465 survivors are picked up by two other ships and 14 persons flown to Nassau hospitals. Bahamian medical community and government recognizes need for better emergency services

1970s – First Accident and Emergency Department opened at PMH

1980s – A&E becomes part of Division of Surgery at PMH

1990s – A&E available at three tertiary hospitals

  • 1993 – Efforts are made to organize ambulance services into National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS)
  • 1997 – First A&E Medical Director at PMH
  • 1999 – NEMS becomes part of enhanced 919 system for police and fire

2000s – Pre-Hospital Care is started through National EMS system

  • 919 becomes official nationwide emergency access number, run out of police control room
  • EMS system is supported by Bahamian Red Cross and Royal Bahamas Defense Force ambulances in disasters
  • 2009 – First EMS Medical Director appointed

Today NEMS has 112 staff members.

GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT

The National Emergency Medical Services (N.E.M.S.) is the public or governmental system. It is an agency of the Public Hospitals Authority and is headed by a full-time Medical Director who is a Consultant Emergency Medicine Specialist; a first in the Department’s history.  [Source: Public Hospitals Authority]

REFERENCES
  • DevelopingEM Conference – Monday, September 14, 2015. Havana, Cuba. Oral Presentation: “Emergency Medicine in the Bahamas.” Dr. Michelle Sweeting.”
  • Ezenkwele UA et al: “Emergency medicine in the Bahamas. 2001;38(6):684-8.
  • Nelson BD, Ahn R et al: “Emergency care and referral among isolated island populations in the Bahamas.”  2015;48(3):356-65.
  • Scavella, Nic. “Government Commissions Latest Ten New Ambulances.Tribune242.com (May 6, 2016)
  • Scavella, Nic. “Teenager Attacked By Shark Says There Was No Ambulance – But Hospital Has No Record Of Call.Tribune242.com (August 16, 2016)
LINKS

SCOREBOARD

% of Seriously Injured Transported by Ambulance in the Bahamas, 2013

50-74%

[Source: 2013 Global Status Report on Road Safety, WHO]

Road Traffic Injury Deaths
(per 100,000 population)

  • Bahamas
  • Jamaica
  • United States

[Source: 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety, WHO]

Reported Homicides
(per 100,000 population)

  • Bahamas
  • Jamaica
  • United States

[Source: 2014 Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, WHO-UNDP]

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