KZN paramedics ‘honoured’ to put in 12-hour shifts

2013-12-16 00:00

TWENTY paramedics from KwaZulu-Natal said it was “an honour” to serve at Nelson Mandela’s state funeral yesterday and some said they would have come even without the call of duty.

Assembled by the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department, the team were deployed in 10 ambulances between Mthatha and Qunu, to supplement overstretched emergency services in the Eastern Cape.

Paramedic Lethuthula Mbatha said, “It is a proud moment and an honour for me to be part of this team. It means a lot to play a part in the funeral of Mandela, who is an icon of our country.”

He said the team were doing 12-hour shifts, which extended to even longer hours on Saturday, when the group were asked to serve at the late night vigil at Walter Sisulu University, and an early start for the funeral itself.

Mbatha, from Vryheid, said the scale of the event reminded him of similar duties at the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

His colleague, Petros Strydom, said “thankfully” their shifts had been quiet, with no serious injuries to treat.

“Madiba is my hero. In any event I would have come to the funeral in my private capacity had I not been sent to assist,” said Strydom. “The deployment has really helped to fulfil my wish — to be here to give support to Madiba. We are representing KwaZulu-Natal.”

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