Chang upset over delay in attending to injured cop at hospital

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Dr Horace Chang is livid over reports that a police sergeant, who was shot and seriously injured during last week Sunday’s intense firefight with heavily armed robbers in May Pen, Clarendon, had to undergo a near hour-long wait for a diagnostic test at May Pen Hospital.

“This officer who was injured in uniform, on duty, had to wait 55 minutes; there are a number of things wrong with that. I note first the delay was not only uncomfortable, but it is a life-threatening delay,” the minister of national security charged.

“He was hit in the abdomen and the pelvis. Thank God no major organ was injured, but clearly an officer comes in with that kind of bullet, you don’t know what happened. It goes through the skin here and come out at the back, but you don’t know what’s happening in-between until you do X-rays. So, while he may not have collapsed, if it had hit a major artery like the aorta, he would have died. He could have been bleeding profusely internally, and to wait 45 minutes could have cost him his life,” he said.

Dr Chang noted that before the injured cop was eventually attended to, a May Pen businessman sought to provide financial assistance to cover the cost of the diagnostic test.

He argued that if the businessman had provided the financial assistance for the policeman who, in turn, upon his recovery did any favours for the businessman, this would strengthen the narrative that police are corrupt.

“If he had to await the payment of a businessman for the fees to get it (diagnostic test) done, when he returned from hospital and is rehabilitated, if he shows that businessman any favour — which is only human — the first thing that will be said is that he is corrupt and on the payroll of the businessman,” Dr Chang argued.

He expressed that the incident drives home the need for a clearly defined policy that, especially on duty members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force are all treated “expeditiously and without question” upon their arrival at medical facilities.

“I have indicated to the minister (of health), if there is need for medical equipment it should be allowed as quickly as possible; if we have to pay the bill it must be sent to the ministry. It cannot be right to have men and women facing the kind of gunmen we have in Jamaica, and when they get injured and get to hospital questions are asked how they are treated — that must discontinue while I am minister of national security,” the security minister said.

He was speaking at the Jamaica Police Federation’s 76th Annual Joint Central Conference at Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, Ocho Rios in St Ann, last Wednesday.

The two-day conference was held under the theme: ‘Overcoming Challenges, Rebuilding Bridges for a Sustainable Future’.

Lauding the brave cops who confronted the heavily armed robbers, the security minister pointed to the irony that had any resident been shot in the crossfire, the police would have been held accountable.

“The narrative, that the police didn’t respond on time, that the police is ill-equipped, and they don’t have the courage to deal with it because all of them escaped. But I am fully aware that if the police had been more aggressive and one customer had died, there is a possibility that that officer would have been charged with manslaughter and be given the full length of the law,” he argued.

The incident took place shortly after 9:00 am as the gunmen were robbing a supermarket in the Clarendon capital.

The police recovered casings and spent shells from M16 rifles, Kalashnikov rifles, and shotguns.

Another cop was also injured in the incident.

— Horace Hines

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