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EMS attacks could have consequences for communities, MEC warns

WC Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo says her department is doing all it can to ensure the safety of EMS staff.

Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo. Picture: @nomafrench.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo says attacks on emergency medical officials could have far-reaching consequences for communities.

Mbombo addressed hundreds of paramedics and other emergency personnel yesterday during a march in Philippi.

Demonstrators made an appeal to the community to help stop attacks on EMS staff.

Nathan Boks, a paramedic, says he fears for his life whenever he's called out.

"I like to see changes that people out there must leave us alone so that we can help them. I hope this can be a matter that we can help them in future."

Mbombo says the department's doing everything it can to assure the safety of emergency services staff but she adds the communities must help.

"A mobile data technology so that when you get a call it goes to the head office and the ambulance can pick up where the call comes from so that it can respond immediately.

"In addition to that, our staff being trained on issues around how to avoid hijacks. And it's not only the job of health department and police but the public as well."

NOT ORGANISED ATTACKS

Police say attacks on paramedics and officers are mainly opportunistic crimes committed by drug addicts.

There's been a spate of attack on EMS staff across parts of Cape Town this year.

Nyanga police station commander Brigadier Vuyisile Ncata says crimes against emergency medical services personnel are usually not organised attacks.

"Because of high use of drugs here in the area and these boys will do anything to get money so that it can feed their habit. It's not an organised attack."

Ncata says the attacks have a negative impact on the police's reaction time to other matters.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo has called on the community to do more to help keep EMS staff safe, especially in red zones identified as hotspots for these kinds of attacks.

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