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A narrow escape: CT paramedic details being shot while on duty

Victor Labuschage was shot in the chest in Beacon Valley last Tuesday but fortunately, he was wearing his own bulletproof vest.

Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - A Cape Town paramedic who had a narrow escape from death while on duty has told Eyewitness News what happened last week.

Victor Labuschage was shot in the chest in Beacon Valley last Tuesday but fortunately, he was wearing his own bulletproof vest.

He has been a paramedic for 25 years, based in Mitchells Plain for nine years.

“I looked to my right, I saw the person crossing the road. He didn’t even turn around, pulled the gun out, swung his arm around, looked at me and fired the shot," he said this happed a few minutes after he and his partner loaded a patient into the back of an ambulance van.

Labuschage said after he was hit in the chest, he drove straight to the hospital where he offloaded the patient.

“It all happened so quickly. I just saw the flash and it felt like someone is hitting me on my chest, and I was confused… I wasn’t sure what was going on … why this is happening.”

But it’s not the first time he has been attacked; he's been stabbed in the back, almost hijacked and held at gunpoint.

Labuschage said he bought his bulletproof vest years ago when he worked in areas where shootings would occur frequently.

“I went and I bought myself the vest, mostly because my wife said rather be safe than sorry, she doesn’t let me go out of the house without it.”

He said despite the attacks, he would return to work and serve the community because he simply loved his job.

“I made a commitment. The old lady on the corner that greets you every morning, the kids that greet you every morning - they didn’t do anything wrong to me, so they deserve to get medical treatment.”

ATTACKS ON PARAMEDICS GOING UP AND DOWN

The wave of attacks on paramedics in South Africa seems to go up and down.

While authorities had made progress in bringing down the number during the lockdown, incidents started ramping up again.

Last month, Ryan Le Grange and his partner were targeted while responding to a call in Shauderville - a poor Port Elizabeth community.

They managed to escape unhurt but rattled and without their cell phones.

Le Grange said the trauma of the attack was still fresh: “The first couple of nights after that it’s the only thing that runs through your head and you don’t get to sleep well.”

Meanwhile, due to the high crime rate in the Western Cape, officials have flagged some areas as red zone, this means EMS crews must wait for a police escort before rushing to the scene.

EMS director Shaheem de Vries said they eventually wanted to do away with red zones and move to green corridors.

“Green corridors are safe passages to enter into areas and render services where we don’t necessarily need escort.”

In light of stretched healthcare services struggling with the second wave of COVID-19 infections, authorities are working on a plan to keep paramedics safe, especially those who work under dangerous conditions.

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