Medics to ‘extract’ sick

2017-11-14 06:00
Goverment depatments joins together to protect EMS providers. From left are Gideon Morris, Dan Plato, Nomafrench Mbombo and Robbie Roberts.

Goverment depatments joins together to protect EMS providers. From left are Gideon Morris, Dan Plato, Nomafrench Mbombo and Robbie Roberts.

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A plan to improve the safety of those who come to the rescue of residents was announced at the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) base in Pinelands on Friday.

Provincial health minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo described the safety plan following the death of an eight-year-old boy after another attack on an ambulance on Wednesday morning.

The injured boy’s ambulance was robbed at gunpoint en route to hospital on the N2 near Borcherds Quarry.

The boy died later at the hospital.

Paramedics Sithembiso Solomon and Chantal Beesley say they are still shocked and are having nightmares about the ordeal. 

Beesley says they are glad the authorities have prioritised their safety before something even more tragic happens to other emergency services workers. She says it is becoming common to have EMS paramedics attacked while helping patients.

Mbombo said on Friday the issue of the emergency workers’ safety could not be dealt with by only the health department, but needed collaborative intervention by all stakeholders. 

She said while it was clear that paramedics’ lives were at risk they could not turn a blind eye to the fact that residents were also affected. She said working with the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement and police could guarantee a safer environment. 

“The safety of our health professionals requires a whole-of-society approach to end this scourge and to continue delivering quality healthcare to those who need it most,” she said.

The plan includes increasing police visibility in hotspots and improving their availability when paramedics have to go to ­patients. 

Pick up patients

Paramedics will now be required to use a “pick-and-drop strategy” and not first stabilise patients in their homes or at the pickup spots. 

They will stabilise patients during transportation inside the ambulance. 

The department of safety and Law Enforcement will increase cameras in hotspots and on major routes, namely the N1, N2 and N7. 

All EMS vehicles will get a 24-hour working panic button linked to other safety stakeholders to make sure prompt response is provided.

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security and social development, said the City would prioritise the linkup of EMS vehicles to the City’s emergency response to make sure they received fast response if they were attacked or needed help

Smith said the City had faith in the success of CCTV cameras, so they would be working closely with Law Enforcement to install them in the identified areas.

Robbie Roberts, the City’s director of Law Enforcement, said they were prepared to work harder to enforce security systems in public spaces and help government to enforce safety measures and track down criminals and suspicious people through the use of technology and the City’s manpower.

Gideon Morris, head of the provincial community safety department, also gave the assurance that his department supported the collaboration.

He said they planned to increase the visibility of law enforcers and create a working relationship with the health department by helping paramedics in attending to emergencies and providing backup where ­needed.

He said police were prioritising the investigation of the recent ambulance attack.

He explained that the footage used to trace the three men who had been arrested was critically evaluated and police were trying to find links between these men and the ­robbers.

Morris said: “The footage has revealed that about a week ago three men were arrested for conspiracy to commit a crime. Those suspects were seen on the footage placing rocks on the road in an attempt to stop their targets, which was also the case in the recent incident. We cannot say whether it is a syndicate until the case has been finalised.”

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