Seven new ambulances for iLembe

2018-09-12 06:01
PHOTO: suppliedKZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo inspects one of the new ambulances.

PHOTO: suppliedKZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo inspects one of the new ambulances.

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OF the 89 new ambulances that were unveiled in Durban last week, seven will be servicing iLembe.

According to KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who presented the new fleet of ambulances to the province’s 11 health districts, the ambulances will improve the government’s ability to go to the aid of people in emergency situations within the “golden hour”, including in far-flung areas where the terrain is rough.

In a statement issued by the MEC Dhlomo he thanked the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff for the immense role that they play in the health value chain. He also urged the public to look after the ambulances and respect the emergency crews who use them to bring life-saving health care to people in distress.

“Our province is home to more than 10,5 million people, which amounts to 21% of the population of the country. At least 80% of these people depend on public health sector for their medical and health needs.

“Our Emergency Medical Service is the largest in the country, operating more than 300 ambulances and having more than 2 500 dedicated paramedics in its employ.

“Due to the vastness of our province and the rough terrain of some of our roads, our vehicles accumulate high mileage very quickly, which means that they are subject to extraordinary wear and tear, and reach their sell-by date (250 000 km) very quickly,” read the statement.

In addition, he said that the vehicles constantly need to be repaired and in some cases replaced.

“And because replacing them does not come cheap, we are sometimes forced to soldier on and continue using them even when they have reached that replacement threshold.

“But we are pleased to be handing over 89 ambulances, which are fully equipped to an Intermediate Life Support level, and are in line with the new EMS regulations.

“They will be distributed to all 11 districts to complement the existing operational fleet. We see investments in new ambulances as a means to enhance the working environment for this sector whose nature of work is characterised by emergency and urgency.”

The breakdown of the new ambulances is as follows:

• 36 Mercedes Benz Sprinter converted to ambulances;

• 35 VW Crafters converted to ambulances; and

• 18 Toyota Hilux pick-up vans converted to all-terrain ambulances.

Commenting on the additional vehicles, the community of iLembe, while glad for the initiative, are convinced that the additions will not go far in making a difference considering how fast the iLembe population is growing.

A local paramedic said: “It will assist, but remember that these seven are only replacing the ageing ambulances that are in operation now.”

Resident Viren Maharaj said seven is “just a drop in the ocean”.

A Mandeni resident, Ashika Maharaj, said she called for an ambulance a while ago when an elderly family member became ill.

“We waited nearly an hour before deciding to take the elderly man to the hospital ourselves. I do not know if these new ambulances will help but I truly hope that they do.

“Too many people in this area suffer and die waiting for ambulances.”

Ramesh Hoobraj said: “We are going nowhere slowly to deal with a 10-fold rise in the community.”

Hoobraj’s sentiments were echoed by Pravin Sanker who said: “It is not enough to replace the aged ones against the rise in public demands.”

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