A driver attached to Lamu's King Fahd County Hospital has been withdrawn from ambulance services after he delayed to take a patient to Mombasa for specialised treatment.
Mr Abdallah Rashid, 55, who has served as an ambulance driver for more than 30 years, could not account for the vehicle’s standby fuel.
An ambulance must always have fuel and be on standby for emergency services.
The driver was seen refuelling the ambulance with the patient on board at a petrol station in Mpeketoni town.
The incident sparked anger among members of the public who accused the Lamu county government of treating the lives of locals casually.
"We have a patient inside an ambulance which is not fuelled. Why are they fuelling it now? The patient can die. This is irresponsibility of the highest order. Our Governor Fahim Twaha should do something about this," said a witness at the petrol station.
Lamu County Health Executive Anne Gathoni said the county department of health always has enough fuel for ambulance services.
"Attention is drawn to information on social media platforms in regard to an ambulance with a patient on board at a petrol station. We bring the following to the attention of the public. The county department of health has fuel for ambulance services. The ambulance is provided with standby fuel for any emergency that may arise. Ambulance drivers are expected to uphold high levels of discipline, which include the manner of emergency response and patient handling,'' said Ms Gathoni in a statement.
She added: “As such, stern disciplinary action is being taken against the concerned driver, who could not account for the standby fuel, and ended up creating a scene at the petrol station, with a patient on board. High level of accountability is expected of ambulance drivers. The driver is hereby withdrawn from ambulance services with immediate effect.”
According to the Health executive, the driver was not expected at the petrol station.
"The patient had been referred to Mombasa. The ambulance had standby fuel to take the patient to Mombasa and get back. The driver was not expected at the petrol station. He needs to explain what happened to the standby fuel. It's unfortunate that he created a scene at the petrol station, contrary to what is expected of him as an ambulance driver," said Ms Gathoni.
The driver, Mr Rashid, dismissed the claim that he had been withdrawn.
He blamed the incident on miscommunication from some of his bosses.
"I am an experienced driver and I can't make such obvious mistakes. I didn't go to the petrol station to fuel the ambulance with a patient on board. There was miscommunication somewhere. I have worked in Lamu since 1989. I am meeting my seniors today (Monday). So far, I haven't received any official communication from the county withdrawing me from ambulance services as alleged. I am still an employee of Lamu county government," said Mr Rashid.