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L Pilling, Jefferson College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.


Dominica is the largest of the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands. The country extends across 750km2 and has two major population centers: Roseau (capital city) and Portsmouth. The purpose of this study was to assess the knowledge of and attitudes towards the local emergency medical services (EMS) system in Portsmouth. Participants were adults not affiliated with the healthcare system. A convenience sample of 50 people was recruited. Data was collected by a self-administered, anonymous and pre-tested questionnaire consisting of three parts: demographics, knowledge of local EMS, and attitudes towards EMS. Likelihood ratio tests were performed to determine statistically significant associations between knowledge and the independent variables—age, gender, educational level, call for ambulance services—and between attitudes and these same variables. A simple linear regression test also was calculated to predict attitudes towards local EMS scores based on participants’ knowledge of local EMS scores. The response rate was 90.9% (50/55). Overall, participants (94%, n=47) showed a positive attitude towards the EMS. Knowledge of the EMS however, was low (58%, n=29) and misconceptions were high. Notably, only 22% of the participants knew the correct emergency number and 42% did not know that the ambulance services were without cost. People who had called the ambulance tended to know the emergency number and were more likely to recommend the service to a friend. The findings serve as public health evidence for targeted educational interventions aimed at improving the public’s awareness of the local EMS in Portsmouth. The evidence suggests that the following recommendations may be appropriate: develop informational posters addressing number to call for EMS and when and when not to call EMS; organize of community events to inform the public about EMS’ role. Other recommendations, ideally instituted across the island are to: establish a universal emergency access number to help reduce delays in response, institute an emergency dispatcher system, and develop a campaign utilizing text messaging and online marketing targeted at 25-54 age group. Full commitment of the Ministry of Finance, Fire and Ambulance Services Department, and fire stations, among other stakeholders is needed to implement such interventions and improve public education of the EMS in Portsmouth and Dominica.

Presentation: 17:02