Cape Town – Trauma experienced by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, who have been attacked while on the job, is an indication of larger socio-economic challenges facing South Africa.
This is according to Deputy Minister of Health Mathume Phaahla, who said 56 attacks took place on EMS members in the province this year, which had resulted in reduced ambulance services around the Cape.
Phaahla, who spoke at the CPUT EMS Safety Symposium, was joined by community members and safety experts, who helped unpack the scale of the problem to try to rectify issues going into the festive season.
“We are living in a highly criminal-infested society and that's why part of (this) will explore the relationship between community policing forums and (EMS) to ensure there are systems of co-operation when a call for help arrives,” said Phaahla.
He said attacks on EMS staff happened because respect for human life was lacking in society.
Phaahla spoke of a concept of “red zones”, or creating access-controlled zones, as a way of dealing with the scourge of ambulance attacks.
Other interventions implemented by the department 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.
Acting deputy dean of the CPUT Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, Lloyd Christopher, said this was the first co-ordinated effort to try to tackle the problem of EMS attacks.
“It is important that we get a diverse view of why these ambulance attacks are happening. A common solution must be possible,” he said.