WCGH EMS spokesperson Deanna February said community engagements and outreaches made a significant difference and police support was appreciated. File Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
WCGH EMS spokesperson Deanna February said community engagements and outreaches made a significant difference and police support was appreciated. File Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town emergency crews brace for grim festive season

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Dec 2, 2021

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Cape Town - Cape Town emergency medical, rescue and security officials are bracing for an onslaught over the festive season.

Paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officers activated to respond to emergency incidents in local communities, including areas identified as Red Zones, have continually come under attacks.

The Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) EMS Department says it recorded 71 attacks on its EMS officials this year, the latest incident being an attack on two paramedics in Macassar earlier this week.

The City’s Fire and Rescue Directorate says it had to facilitate 58 individual trauma counselling sessions and 10 group sessions for staff between May and October.

Mayco Member for Safety Security JP Smith said: “Attacks on service providers, whether public or private, impact service delivery. From our perspective, this means potential staff shortages where individuals take time off work due to injury or emotional trauma, which means backlogs in attending to service requests.

“It’s important for communities to realise that service departments are not the enemy, but are trying to improve their lives and surroundings.”

WCGH EMS spokesperson Deanna February said community engagements and outreaches made a significant difference and police support was appreciated.

“Unfortunately, we are at a place where paramedics are unable to do their jobs without a SAPS escort due to malicious activities imposed on EMS officials by perpetrators. Services are further affected because staff do not enter areas unless they are escorted.

“Our paramedics work everywhere, including areas where crime is rife and where the incidence of workplace trauma is common,” she said.

Residents were urged to support officials as they render an important service in communities, particularly during the festive season, she said.

“Help keep our officials safe and report any acts of criminality to the police without delay.

“We remain grateful to the brave EMS men and women who are committed to saving lives across the province and are hoping to see an evident decline in assaults on EMS officials moving forward,” February said.

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Cape Argus

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