Medical Emergency Transport and Rescue (METRO)

Various state and non-government organisations offer emergency rescue and transport services to the public. These emergency services provide on-the-spot assistance for patients and transportation to health facilities.
What are the Services Offered by the Emergency Medical Services (EMS)?
The Department of Health: Emergency Medical Services provide a 24-hour medical response and pre-hospital care service to the public. They are the first point of medical contact to the injured or ill. Patients are administered basic medical assistance on the scene of the incident and then transported to the nearest health care facility for definitive treatment. Volunteers provide extra support for EMS staff where there is a need. EMS is divided into three divisions:
  1. Ambulance:
    Each ambulance is furnished with a full medical kit, including the appropriate medical equipment and medication, plus a stretcher. Skilled medical practitioners work in teams of two per ambulance and provide quality care based on their training, namely, basic life support providers (primary), intermediate life support (secondary) and advanced life support (paramedic). EMS operates 251 ambulance vehicles in the Western Cape.

    How Do I Become a Paramedic? 
    EMS government employees are trained at the Provincial Government Western Cape College of Emergency Care in Bellville (on Tygerberg Hospital premises). There are private- and government-subsidised institutions that provide BLS, ILS and ALS courses. For more information, you can visit the St John Ambulance website: as well as the website of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology:
  2. Rescue:
    EMS rescue technicians provide both technical and medical care on the scene of a motor vehicle accident and rescue operation. They specialise in: extricating (removing) patients from wrecked vehicles using the Jaws of Life, aquatic rescue, rescuing citizens in dangerous environments (wilderness search and rescue) using the appropriate technical equipment, aviation rescue and disaster management. Each rescue vehicle is fully kitted with power tools and hiking equipment to enhance the assistance provided by the technician. There are 33 rescue vehicles operating in the Western Cape, including Rescue 6 which can remove/lift extremely heavy equipment from an accident scene.

    How Do I Become a Rescue Technician?
    The minimum requirement to become a Rescue Technician is an ILS (Intermediate Life Support Certificate) qualification. If you are a government employee, you can complete the Rescue Technician course at the Provincial Government Western Cape College of Emergency Care in Bellville.There are private- and government-subsidised institutions that provide rescue training to the public.
  3. Healthnet:
    Healthnet provides non-emergency transport of patients between health care facilities (inter-facility transport) as advised and booked by the attending supervisors of provincial health care facilities. Bookings can only be made through a provincial health care facility (hospital/clinic) and patients receive a reference number and date of collection. There are 77 Healthnet vehicles operating in the Western Cape.

    How Do I Book with Healthnet?
    Go to your nearest provincial health care facility and ask the supervisor on duty to book with Healthnet as advised by your doctor.

Volunteering for the service will give you first-hand experience (practical training) in becoming an emergency practitioner. Volunteers are an important part of the service as they complement EMS human resources against the ever-growing population. There are volunteer groups in towns throughout the Western Cape. These groups can be contacted through EMS stations in all six districts.

How do I Become a Volunteer for EMS?

  1. Contact the applicable district/division of EMS and ask for the co-ordinator of the volunteer programme.
  2. You will be interviewed and then, once you have joined as a volunteer, you will be taken out on ambulance calls.
  3. You will be required to attend Level 1, 2 and 3 first aid courses given by paramedics. In addition, you may be sent for short courses at the Academy of Emergency Medical Care at CPUT.

First Aid Organisations:
First Aid organisations, including St John Ambulance, SA Red Cross Society Western Cape and SA First Aid League, give back-up assistance to EMS and first aid at sporting and cultural events.

Air Mercy Service:
The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) is a non-profit aero-medical organisation that provides an air ambulance network, flying doctor and rural health outreach and emergency rescue service to metropolitan areas and remote rural communities. AMS works closely with the provincial departments of health and health workers in the communities to assess needs and implement appropriate healthcare programmes.

Their work includes airlifting critically injured car crash victims or injured sailors or swimmers at sea to flying teams of doctors and specialists - many of whom are volunteers to rural communities to provide specialist care.

These are Some Other Useful Contacts:

Various state and non-government organisations offer emergency rescue and transport services to the public. These emergency services provide on-the-spot assistance for patients and transportation to health facilities.

  • St John Ambulance: 021 461 8420 (during office hours)
    Emergency: 021 423 3333

  • SA Red Cross Society Western Cape: 021 797 5360

  • SA First Aid League: 021 948 6294

  • EMT (Emergency Medical Training): 0860 368 368


For emergency medical care, phone the National Medical Emergency Number 10177, and an ambulance will be sent out from one of several dispatch centres in the Western Cape.

Dialling 10177: When you call for assistance, please provide the following information:

  • The location (address) of the incident/accident or potential patient. Provide landmarks.
  • The nature of the medical problem/incident. Speak clearly and calmly to the call taker and ensure that it is a real medical emergency as the tying up of resources could lead to the prolonged suffering or death of someone else.
  • Give a contact person's name and cell phone number to the call taker. Ensure that the telephone line is available until the ambulance arrives.
EMS Head Office021 948 9908

Volunteer Programme:

Western Division (Pinelands)021 508 4548
Northern Division (Tygerberg)021 938 6738/40
Eastern Division (Gugulethu)021 361 6568
Southern Division (Lentegeur)021 374 2316
West Coast022 433 8853
Central Karoo023 414 2603
Overberg028 425 1907
Cape Winelands023 346 6028
Eden044 802 2500


Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)

No one will be refused the service based on capacity to pay. If you are on a medical aid, you will be charged Uniform Patient Fee Rates agreed with the medical aids. If you are not, you will be assessed according to your income and charged accordingly.

The content on this page was last updated on 7 July 2014