NWRHA: New security gate installed at A&E at Port of Spain General Hospital

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

New electronic security gates (in the distance) have been installed at the entrance to the accident and emergency department at the Port of Spain General Hospital on Thursday, in response to a fatal attack by gunmen at the facility on June 2. – Photo by Faith Ayoung

NORTH West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) CEO Anthony Blake says since the incident that saw brazen gunmen stage a fatal attack at the accident and emergency (A&E) section of the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) on June 2, additional security measures have been added to the compound.

“We’ve had additional security on the compound and support from the TT Police Service (TTPS) in terms of having additional armed police at the compound.

“Our security providers have also added support.”

Blake did not want to go into how much security had been added for safety and logistic purposes.

On June 3, Blake spoke to media after the deadly shooting incidents on June 2, first in Gonzales, Belmont and then outside the PoSGH’s A&E, where gunmen opened fire on the Gonzales shooting victims who were brought to hospital for treatment. Four people died across those shooting incidents. One of them shot and killed at the hospital.

Blake who was accompanied by Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh and other members of the NWRHA on June 3, said an internal meeting was held to review security systems and discuss the well-being of staff.

Anthony Blake –

Newsday asked Blake by phone on Thursday how those meetings went, he said there was a tried and measured method in doing risk assessments in doing security measures for medical facilities.

Blake said he has had to put back on his military hat, as he is a former major of the TT Defence Force.

“The methodology we’re using to improve the security is goal-setting – to determine what is actually needed and what we want to achieve.

“That is improving security, specifically at the A&E but also throughout the PoSGH.”

He said after the goals were set, risk assessments were needed.

“We have been doing risk assessment with the security companies and the TTPS over the last week.

“I’ve even asked for assistance from my colleagues at the TT Regiment in that regard.”

Blake said once the risk assessment was finished and possible scenarios were looked at, then the actual measures – installing cameras, additional security personnel or additional gates on the compound – can be implemented.

“After this, we augment our security policies and procedures to suit the strategies that were developed and then roll out training and awareness to the staff.

“Then, the testing and evaluation phase takes place and response plans are developed.”

Blake said a new electronic gate was installed at the A&E entrance at the PoSGH to prevent “easy access to the emergency department…

“None of us at the regional health authorities prior to the incident on June 2 would’ve looked at five people with automatic rifles storming an A&E department as a possible scenario.

“Now we have seen it, and we have to plan for it and other eventualities at the hospital, and put the mitigating measures in place so an incident like that doesn’t happen again.”

Blake said the hospital scenario was part of a wider national problem.

“If we don’t fix crime and criminality in the environment surrounding the hospital, we will continue to face a challenge around the hospital.”

Newsday visited the PoSGH on Thursday to see the additional security measures, specifically the location of the gate.

The newly installed gate at A&E is facing the main entrance of the PoSGH. Prior to the gate being installed, an electronic car park barrier was used.

While there, Newsday interviewed a member of staff who wished to remain anonymous.

He said, “I don’t feel safe even with the additional measures currently in place, as criminals can easily get around them.”

He raised some concerns with the newly installed gate in terms of the opening and closing being currently manual.

“The gate is heavy and if rain falls, the security now has to open and close this gate for people.

“There’s a risk that this can hit people’s vehicles and even take a toll on the security.”

He said the gate did not provide safety to anyone, but made it seem like it did so people could “feel comfortable…

“Everything is done in a reactive manner and not a proactive one.”

When asked what would make him feel safer he said, “Having a police post at the hospital would be great.

“That is what would make me feel safe. As of right now, I be happy when my shift is finished.”

He said the armed police presence only lasted a few days after the June 2 incident, as there was still a wounded victim at the hospital at the time. Since then, he claims, the police presence has diminished.

He also said seeing security guards with high-powered weapons, once they were trained to use them and upgraded armour would also make him “feel safer.”

Responding to the staff’s concerns, specifically the gate, Blake said, “The gate isn’t finished.

“It was only installed last night (Wednesday). We still have to put spikes at the top which should be completed in 48 hours.”

Before press time, Blake sent videos of the gate with the spikes completed.

In terms of the automation and electronic systems of the gate, Blake expected it to be fully functional within a week’s time.

Addressing the other concerns Blake said, “No security plan is fool proof.

“There are many banks in Trinidad, do you see people outside the banks with high-powered weapons?

“Is there a threat of people being robbed at the bank?”

He said the NWRHA was going through all possible assessments to ensure the safety of all members of staff and patients.