Pictures posted on Facebook showing the ambulance being used during prom.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE MINISTRY of Health has confirmed that a public nurse has also been suspended in connection with the use of a government ambulance at a high school prom in Abaco earlier this month.
Officials condemned the "unauthorised and frivolous" use of the emergency vehicle, adding that there was zero tolerance for the misuse and abuse of public resources.
In a statement released yesterday, it was confirmed that the nurse was placed on administrative leave after she submitted a formal report detailing her involvement in the unauthorised use of the ambulance for a non-health related activity.
"On receipt of the signed report by the nurse outlining her involvement," the statement read, "the Ministry of Health, in accordance with the Bahamas Nurses Union Agreement 22.04, Public Service Commission Regulation 43 and General Orders 1041, has placed the Officer on Administrative Leave with effect from 17th June 2015 pending the outcome of a full investigation of the matter.
"The Ministry of Health wishes to make it patently clear that there is zero tolerance for such misuse and abuse of public resources in the Ministry, inclusive of the Department of Public Health and Public Hospitals’ Authority, while noting that, at the same time, there could have been a real need for Emergency Medical Response, which would have been delayed by this frivolous activity."
The disciplinary action came after photographs were posted on social media, showing a teen girl dressed all in white, arriving at a prom in Marsh Harbour in the ambulance on June 13. The teen, identified as Ashvonn Russell, pretended to be unconscious and was then carried out of the ambulance on a stretcher by what appears to be Emergency Services Personnel. Her date, Johnny Auguste,dressed as “Prince Charming,” then kissed her and brought her back to life, according to reports.
Health officials said they were alerted to a report on Facebook on June 14, and launched an immediate investigation.
The story has caught international attention. In an interview with an online publication, Ms Russell apologised to her critics but said she can never apologise “for being artistic and creative because that makes me who I am”.
Two Public Hospitals Authority employees, attached to the Emergency Medical Services department, were suspended for 10 days following the incident.
The photographs, which were shared thousands of times on social media sites, received mixed reaction from the public and made international headlines as well as several talk shows.