Red Cross workers wheel an injured at the site of a road accident in Beirut, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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When the Lebanese Army's Independence Day preparations paralyzed traffic on the country's main roads last month, a video of an ambulance stuck in the gridlock generated criticism from social media commentators lamenting the fate of the patient. But according to several people working in the country's emergency medical services system, Lebanon's chronic congestion is the least of their worries in trying to provide reliable and swift care.Other EMS agencies include the Civil Defense and private companies such as the Patient Transport Service.Hospitals generally do not have their own fleet of ambulances to serve neighboring areas.Sayed also noted that an organized emergency system would clearly define services and hospitals capacity.However, the ambulance is mainly reserved for transporting patients already in the hospital to other institutions.At the moment, 3,500 trained volunteers work as EMS responders, with over 300 ambulances and 70 four-by-four vehicles.The Health Ministry provides us with about 30 percent of our budget, and the rest is fundraising".He said that Beirut currently has four ambulances that operate during the day. Taking out these added services, about 86 percent of calls could be covered within the same time span by implementing the ambulance relocation strategy.
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