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Red alert as bomb threat clears hospital

Red alert as bomb threat clears hospital


A mixture of anxiety, pain and anger appeared on the faces of most people present in the vicinity of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and the Victoria Park, as a forced evacuation of the 130 plus patients and dozens of staff members caused chaos and panic yesterday.{{more}}

At about 9:30 a.m., a telephone call to the hospital announced that there was a bomb in the hospital.

It is alleged that another call giving the time frame for the bomb to go off, was made shortly after the first.

The threat, now confirmed to be false by police officers who searched the area with bomb sniffing dogs, caused an emergency situation as serious as any natural disaster many may have witnessed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The sick, the healing, the pregnant, the young, the old, and the dying were all taken hastily, but carefully, to the nearby Victoria Park, where the Girls’ High School was having it’s annual Track and Field meet.

The stands took on the appearance of a battle field hospital, with nurses and doctors running around treating patients despite the inconvenience.

According to reports, a number of patients could not be evacuated because they were undergoing surgery at the time of the evacuation.

A young child, still in her surgical garbs, runs with her Intravenous bag in her hand as the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital was being evacuated.

Evacuation of the hospital was overseen by the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) under the direction of Director Howie Prince and the police.

The emotions on the faces of hospital staff, police, family members of patients and patients themselves, as well as comments made showed a unified expression of disgust, dismay and disbelief, that someone would call in a bomb threat, and put already fragile lives at risk.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Bertie Pompey at the scene considered the act as a “sick joke, perpetrated by a sick individual.”

He indicated that mechanisms are already in place to try to identify the person or persons responsible for this act, and has no doubt that the justice system will make an example of the culprit once caught.

Minister of Health and the Environment Dr. Douglas Slater joined in the condemnation of the act and hoped that those responsible would be caught and brought to justice.

The Minister observed that some patients and staff were visibly traumatized by the events and indicated that the ministry would provide psychological care to those who would need it.

This is the second time in as many weeks that the Minister has had to attend to a bomb scare situation at one of his institutions.

Last Wednesday, a similar threat was called in at the SVG School of Nursing, situated in Largo Heights.

Dr. Slater, as well as other officials present, offered high praise for NEMO, for its coordination of the evacuation of the hospital. NEMO’s headquarters at Old Montrose was also used as a holding area for young babies.

NEMO’s head Howie Prince said that the evacuation process, though difficult, worked well despite a few hitches.

Prince indicated that the exercise was a lot more difficult in actuality than in theory, and hoped that the need to evacuate the premises would not arise again and condemned the cowardly act.

Up to press time, a phased relocation of patients from the Victoria Park was in the process.

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