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EMS safety plan: Panic buttons to be fitted in ambulances

The move follows the death of an eight-year-old boy after an attack on an ambulance on the N2 near Borcherds Quarry earlier this week.

Emergency Services. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - A plan to improve safety for Emergency Medical Services includes connecting panic buttons in ambulances directly with police and other law enforcement agencies.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and City of Cape Town Safety and Security Mayco Member JP Smith have on Friday briefed the media on an Emergency Medical Services Safety Plan.

It follows the death of an eight-year-old boy after an attack on an ambulance on the N2 near Borcherds Quarry earlier this week.

The city's JP Smith says the panic buttons fitted in Metro EMS vehicles do not yet send alerts to the city's safety and security officials.

He says they're adapting existing response systems to incorporate requests for assistance from ambulance crews.

“We won’t take long with those adaptations, the system will adapt to that reasonably soon so by first quarter next year, at latest June next year we should have that built into our system so that your panic button immediately triggers on every single mobile vehicle or resource or smart device on each one of our officers on the street.”

Smith says the footprint of CCTV cameras is constantly growing to ensure the quickest response time and deployment of police and other law enforcement officers.

Safe zones for emergency workers will also be designated in some of Cape Town's most dangerous communities where help will be available to ambulance crews 24 hours a day.

Meanwhile, a Cape Town Metro EMS paramedic who was attacked on the N2 while transporting the boy to hospital says she's still passionate about her job.

Chantal Beesley and her partner were ambushed on the highway near Borcherds Quarry earlier this week while en-route to the Red Cross war memorial children's hospital with the car crash victim who'd sustained severe head injuries.

Beesley says while they were being robbed at gunpoint, her main focus was to keep Faigon Wildschut alive.

“The child was more important at that stage, the stress only hit me after offloading the child at Red Cross. The child had massive head injuries caused by a car accident.”

Beesley says she remembers the ambulance swerving across the road due to a tyre burst caused by rocks on the roadway.

“I was blocking the door for them to enter the ambulance because I thought for this boy, he already had a rough ride so far. They (robbers) were in my underwear, they took my lip ice, my pen, R30 and a full packet of cigarettes. And after he started to slap me around for my phone which he couldn’t get because it was in my pants. They also took some medical equipment.”

She has little confidence in safety plans, saying with government officials it's all talk, with no real implementation.

Beesly says she'll continue to do her job for the sake of those in dire need of her services.

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