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WC Health Dept: 'Arming EMS crews not solution to halting attacks'

Earlier this month, the South African Emergency Personnel Union called on its members to arm themselves over the festive season following a spate of attacks.

FILE: An ambulance. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Health Department says that it does not believe emergency crews carrying firearms is the solution to addressing attacks on paramedics.

Earlier this month, the South African Emergency Personnel Union called on its members to arm themselves over the festive season following a spate of attacks.

Attacks on paramedics have escalated, with most officials being robbed of their belongings and equipment.

In the Western Cape alone, there have been 58 attacks on EMS crews between January and October 2018.

The head of EMS at the provincial Health Department Shaheem de Vries: "When we reach for violence in violent situations, it rarely ever going to result in peace and so we've adopted the approach of making sure that we put in protective mechanisms giving them entire discretion on their own safety and we balance that with active engagement with the community."