The Lagos branch of the Nigerian Red Cross Society says having only one ambulance to attend to emergencies in a state of over 20 million people is hindering its activities.
The humanitarian body said the challenge became more obvious during the #ENDSARS protest that spiralled into bloody violence across the state.
In an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, the training director, Ige Oladimeji said it was part of their role as a humanitarian aid organisation to also respond to victims who sustained injuries during the #ENDSARS protest.
“Unfortunately, our visibility was not fully felt due to the mobility challenge. As we speak, it may surprise you to learn that the Nigerian Red Cross has only one ambulance in the whole of Lagos State, and we have been using it for 15 years.
“It is not enough to effectively use it to respond to emergencies like the #ENDSARS crisis. There is no way one ambulance can cope well,” he said.
To address the perennial problem of mobility, he said, the Red Cross Society must have, at least, seven ambulances to function at optimal level.
According to him, several Emergency First Aid Team members in all the local governments were almost overwhelmed attending to bleeding from wounds during the protest.
“We also gave psychosocial support to victims who we discovered were traumatised when the #ENDSARS protest was hijacked by suspected hoodlums.
“The Lagos Red Cross is in dire need of help. Disaster management is everybody’s responsibility. That is why there must be a contingency plan.
“We will appreciate if the state government and private organisations can come to our aid. These ambulances are our immediate need for now.
“They are the reason we could not respond adequately to all the distress calls we received during the #ENDSARS protest. It boils down to the non-availability of vehicles at our disposal,” he appealed.
Continuing, Oladimeji said the NRCS works in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Agency and Lagos State Emergency Management in the areas of disaster management.
“Such a partnership is necessary because, in the case of a collapsed building where you need to clear the debris, we will need some heavy equipment that even some corporate organisations like Julius Berger or CCECC may have.
“It is not when those equipment are needed during emergencies that we should be brainstorming. All these things ought to be a function of planning before disaster strikes,” Oladimeji said.
Speaking on the plight of the Red Cross Society, NEMA Acting Coordinator, South West Zonal Office, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the humanitarian organisation draws fund from governments, corporate organisations and private individuals.
“They are a non-governmental body that draws funding from both public (which cuts across governments at all levels) and private sector. We have a collaboration with its headquarters here in Abuja and we work with each other at the operational level.
“When it comes to disaster management, yes, they are part of our stakeholders too,” he said.
Spokesman of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Nosa Okunbor, says the difference among all emergency and disaster outfits in the country lies in the funding and ideology behind their creations.
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