56 attacks on EMS staff between Jan-Oct - WC Health Dept

Western Cape Deputy Minister of Health Mathume Phaahla says its concerning that attacks on EMS members are increasing.

The Western Cape EMS Safety Symposium at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

BELVILLE - The Western Cape Health Department says between January and October this year, there have been 56 attacks on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel in the province.

On Wednesday, Cape Peninsula University of Technology is hosting an EMS Safety Symposium.

Western Cape Deputy Minister of Health Mathume Phaahla says its concerning that attacks on EMS members are increasing.

“This symposium will be discussing how to improve just the skills capacity of EMS.”

The Western Cape’s emergency service’s Shaheem de Vries says in some incidents, officials have been robbed and assaulted.

De Vries says in order to address this problem, better relations with communities must be formed.

“This is a community issue; if we’re going to solve it then we need to solve it in the communities, not by coming up with plans but by talking to one another, supporting one another and collaborating.”

‘RESIDENTS WILLING TO ASSIST’

Mitchells Plain Community Policing Forum cluster chairperson Lucinda Evans says residents are willing to assist but more mentorship and Emergency First Aid Responder training are needed.

She says that training will equip members of the public with the knowledge and skills to stabilise a patient until an ambulance arrives.

“If you want to change the narrative, if you’re saying what I’m hearing here... we need the community. As EMS, you must help us to be part of our structures, to be part of our meetings and to influence the thinking.”

Glenda Arendse from the Lentegeur East neighbourhood watch says 20 members of the community have undergone training, which has been helpful.

“One of my colleagues, when the ambulance arrived she was already busy doing a recovery position which was a big help for ambulance services.”

She too says more training is needed, especially in the 12 red zones identified as hotspot areas for crime.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)