by Linda Straker
- The Accident and Emergency Department at the General Hospital is receiving prank calls with misleading information
- 16 doctors, 32 nurses, and other auxiliary staff infected with Covid-19 as at 19 January
- Summary conviction leads to a fine or a term of imprisonment or to both
Acting Medical Director Dr Tyhiesia Donald has admitted that a major challenge facing the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department at the General Hospital is the receiving of prank calls with misleading information. She has made a plea for those who are engaging in the act to cease and desist.
“Yes, I can confirm that we have had these pranks calls, and you know its actually very sad that this is happening in the midst of the pandemic with the number of cases that we have and persons seeking medical care,” she said, admitting that the operation at the hospital is affected because of Covid-19 diagnoses among medical staff such as doctors and nurses.
Grenada began its second wave of an upsurge in Covid-19 active cases from late December 2021, and as of 19 January 2022, Dr Donald said that 16 doctors, 32 nurses, and other auxiliary staff within the public healthcare system have become infected with Covid-19.
Pleading with the public to put an end to making such calls, Dr Donald said when an ambulance is deployed following such a call, real people’s lives are at stake because they are being deprived of urgent care.
“So, I will really like to ask the public to work with us, please work with us. Now think of it like this, if you do a prank call and there is someone, a family member who actually needs to have that ambulance call, what could have happened is that the resources would have been deployed to an area where it is not needed for an area that is dire need of that service. So, it means that what will happen is that someone who needs urgent care will be deprived of that care because of your prank call,” she explained during the weekly post-cabinet news conference on Wednesday, 19 January 2021.
“We have instances where an ambulance goes to a household and the persons there, they don’t have any idea why it is there and then you have the other instances where ambulance goes out and no one is there. We have two scenarios: no one is there, and the other scenario is the person within the household has no idea why the ambulance is there,” she shared. “They should really stop that practise because it’s affecting our system and it’s actually deploying service to an area that is not needed and persons who really need that service will not get the benefit of it.”
Under Grenada’s Electronic Crimes Act it is a criminal act to make prank calls to law enforcement and emergency services with the purpose of giving false and misleading information.
Section 15 states that a person making a call to any law enforcement or emergency services shall not– (a) use a caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information service; (b) mask their voice; or (c) provide a fake phone number to the call recipient. The penalty according to the legislation is a fine or imprisonment. “A person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or to both.