Three attacks on EMS crews in past week, after 'significant' decrease in 2019
Attacks continue on emergency medical services (EMS) staff in the Western Cape.
Three incidents were recorded during this past week alone, including the stoning of an ambulance in Ravensmead and the theft of an EMS crew's belongings in Atlantis.
Regional EMS director Dr Shaheem de Vries notes that this spate of attacks follows a significant drop in the number of incidents - from 67 in 2018 to 26 in 2019.
As a service struggling to deal with this we have to draw encouragement from that and say despite what is a significant challenge, there is progress.Dr Shaheem de Vries, Director - Emergency Medical Services in the Western Cape
In view of an emergency service which is under particular constraints, there has to be caution about claiming success says de Vries. However, there are some encouraging signs:
The demand for our resources is very high in such a vastly inequitable city such as Cape Town, or the province for that matter.Dr Shaheem de Vries, Director - Emergency Medical Services in the Western Cape
These are complex matters and not everything is easily understood. But where we are drawing encouragement is the initiatives which are quite organic and in fact driven from the ground, that look at EMS engaging more actively with its stakeholders, with its communities.Dr Shaheem de Vries, Director - Emergency Medical Services in the Western Cape
He says when ambulance services are delayed in the city's hot spots or "red zones" this affects Cape Town as a whole.
Over the last three years what we've noted is a three-fold increase in our mission times, which means that it takes us three times longer to a scene which means the resources themselves in effect have dropped down to a third.Dr Shaheem de Vries, Director - Emergency Medical Services in the Western Cape
Despite these dire circumstances, de Vries highlights the support received from not only official role players like the police and political leaders, but from EMS staff who've started projects within their own communities.
If we say Hanover Park or Manenberg is a red zone, it doesn't mean that the whole of Hanover Park or Manenberg is inaccessible. What the team are trying to do is to say: What are the [green] corridors, the safe areas that would allow us to access large parts of that suburb without police escorts? And: How do we maintain and protect those corridors?Dr Shaheem de Vries, Director - Emergency Medical Services in the Western Cape
For more on the state of the Western Cape's EMS, listen to the conversation below:
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