Western Cape EMS build strong relationships with communities, in support of life
Providing emergency medical services to residents in need of help at the proper time while building good relations with communities is a high priority to the Western Cape’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). By working together with communities, EMS personnel are able to perform life-saving interventions in a safe environment. National Emergency Medical Services Day on 17 October highlights the importance of a whole of society approach to addressing EMS safety challenges where many sectors and members of the community are involved in finding solutions and working together.
Earlier today, the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness hosted several events with communities where appreciation was expressed to all EMS personnel, in support of service they provide to communities. Residents had opportunities to interact with their district’s EMS men and women in green, write them messages, and pledge their commitment to protect them.
The sad reality is that these men and women who go beyond the call of duty within communities yet still come under attack. A total of 37 assaults on EMS personnel and service vehicles have been reported in 2023. The impact of these assaults on the public health system has disrupted services. This often contributes to less resources available to respond to essential medical emergencies and causes diminished responses to the most vulnerable communities, such as the pregnant woman who must wait for an ambulance, or the pensioner who suffers a heart attack.
Despite these threats, the province’s EMS personnel perform life-saving work around the clock every day in communities, often resulting in the best possible outcomes for residents when they are in distress or imminent danger. They are usually the one who answer the resident’s frantic phone-call at the Emergency Communications Centre, the first to lend a hand at a road traffic incident when a loved one is injured or provide valuable transport for non-emergency patients who are grateful to be on time for their hospital appointments.
“EMS often go into dangerous and unknown areas to perform life-saving interventions to communities and come under attack. We ask members of the community to stand with our emergency care officials in solidarity in creating communities where we can enter and safely perform this critical emergency function,” said Craig Wylie, Director of EMS at the Department.
The Department values these engagements with communities and their commitment to keep our EMS personnel safe. They cannot go into dangerous areas without a police escort, wasting time in life and death situations. Communities do not always know this and feel let down or neglected by EMS. Our goal is to communicate with residents around the issue and get their support for EMS, because their safety matters.