Pledge to protect EMS

2020-02-18 06:02
Emergency staff face constant threat as attacks continue. PHOTO: Samantha Lee-Jacobs

Emergency staff face constant threat as attacks continue. PHOTO: Samantha Lee-Jacobs

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The provincial department of health is calling on residents to support Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff who risk their lives every day to save others.

This comes after another attack on EMS staff, this time in Kewtown, on Thursday 23 January.

“Public support will be crucial to the work performed by our EMS staff who render a critical health care service, and to keep them safe,” says the health department in a statement. Three attacks took place in a matter of days at the end of last month, prompting the department to call on residents for help.

Premier Alan Winde says: “What kind of society are we living in when you have an emergency and you cannot be assisted and helped because you live in a red zone and the paramedics first need to wait for the police to escort them to you.

“We all know how precious time is when your mother has had a heart attack or someone is sick and needs help.”

Winde says several thousands of people are affected by this, living in the 10 crime hot spots labelled as red zones.

These include Khayelitsha, Tafelsig, Beacon Valley, Philippi, Manenberg and several other areas on the Cape Flats.

In the most recent attack, EMS staff responded to a call at 03:00 and were escorted to the patient’s home by the local police.

Although the Kewtown area has not been declared a red zone, the crew requested to be escorted by police as a safety precaution.

While inside the home of the patient, the ambulance’s window was forced open and a Lifepak 15 cardiac monitor, worth an estimated R300 000, was stolen from the vehicle.

The other two incidents happened on Sunday 19 January.

In the first incident a female paramedic sustained an eye injury after a stone shattered the ambulance’s windscreen in Ravensmead, in the early hours of the morning on their way to collect and transport a patient to Tygerberg Hospital.

Later that day, paramedics were robbed of their personal belongings while attending to a patient in Atlantis.

The department says safety is everyone’s responsibility and that everyone should help keep safe those who stand in service of the people of the province. The role played by EMS staff is paramount, with more than 6 400 call outs in just one weekend in the province.

The bulk of these calls were for assault, labour, respiratory, pain and accidents.

Residents can show their support by sharing their messages and adding their name to the pledge.

V Make your pledge at https://www.westerncape.gov.za/ems-pledge

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