Ambulance attacks

2018-12-18 06:01
Deputy minister of health Dr Mathume Phaahla with some staff during a demonstration.

Deputy minister of health Dr Mathume Phaahla with some staff during a demonstration.

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A holistic view of attacks on ambulances emerged from the Safety Symposium hosted by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology earlier this month.

The scale of the problem was unpacked from ministerial level right through to community members who are feeling the brunt of reduced ambulance services in their areas.

Deputy minister of health Dr Mathume Phaahla said attacks on emergency medical staff are increasing because respect for human life is severely lacking in society and that this is an indication of larger socio-economic challenges facing South Africa.

“We are living in a highly criminal-infested society and that is why part of the discussion will explore the relationship between Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and to ensure there are systems of cooperation to ensure that when a call for help arrives, the emergency medical services feel safe enough to respond,” he said.

While not ideal, Phaahla explained that the concept of red zones – no-go or access-controlled zones for emergency medical care staff – has been one way of dealing with the attacks.

“The declaration of red zones is based on intelligence from the security cluster and police forums. There are a number of government interventions, yet despite this, the attacks still continue,” he said.

Some of the interventions already implemented include training neighbourhood watch members and CPF members to be first responders and provide critical care until ambulance staff are able to get to the scene.

Lentegeur Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Glenda Arendse said her community was selected for first aid training as a trial run and that it is working well.

“Our community members know to cordon areas off and how to do basic first aid until the ambulance gets there and it is working.”

Lloyd Christopher, acting deputy dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences and the symposium chairperson said it is important to get a diverse view of why these ambulance attacks affect the community and why they happen.

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