Minister Botha Officially Opens New Ambulance Station in Vredendal
The Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, formally opened the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Vredendal station on 2 October 2012, of which R6.5 million of the health budget was dedicated to the increase of infrastructure in the Western Cape.
The 22 EMS practitioners plus six volunteers operating from the Vredendal EMS base are primarily community members of the Matzikama Sub-district and supply emergency medical services to 70 000 residents of Vredendal and the 19 neighbouring towns including the area between Vredendal and Bitterfontein, essentially covering an interior of 13 302km².
In collaboration with the local community, EMS presented a station opening that strongly demonstrated the traditions and culture of the people of Matzikama with Namaqualand dancers and key community and health stakeholders partaking in the ceremony, therefore building stronger relationships and ensuring that all parties are contributing to working better together for the future of the people of the Western Cape. The new Vredendal ambulance station provides a full infrastructure including a waiting room for patients, training facility and grounds for fitness training allowing for EMS practitioners to increase their theoretical knowledge and physical status, constantly improving the quality of service we provide to the people of Matzikama.
The station currently handles 812 medical emergencies a month, with an average of 540 medical assignments and traumatic cases, of which 80% of calls are reached within 15 minutes and 95% within 40 minutes, meeting national emergency response standards in rural areas. EMS is currently implementing a first responder programme that educates locals from strategic areas in the Western Cape, which will fundamentally improve the quality of service delivered and uplift the community in the future. Distances between towns can delay mission times of calls to up to nine hours at a time; the first responders will be able to assist patients until an ambulance arrives, especially where 70% of the routes travelled are dirt roads.
Western Cape Government Health’s EMS would like to express gratitude to all persons who played an instrumental role in the events of the day, especially the community and key stakeholders who continue to support EMS’ dedication to saving lives.