Western Cape Provincial Government "Safely Home" Easter Campaign Kicks Off
Provincial Government's "Safely Home" Campaign for the Easter break kicked off this afternoon. The respective ministers responsible for Community Safety, Transport and Health will visit the roadblocks across the Province to ensure that all is going well on the roads and to encourage motorists to drive safely.
Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, says, "as is customary for the Easter weekend, we will see high volumes of public transport, in the form of buses, minibus taxis and sedan taxis, as well as private vehicles travelling between provinces and to various destinations within the Western Cape".
As part of the "Safely Home" Campaign, Provincial traffic officers will work flat out to support motorists on all major routes across the province. Forty-seven roadblocks will be manned by approximately 350 officers from today up to and including 1 May 2011. This excludes other operations by SAPS and Municipal Traffic. "I have called for all hands on deck as the safety of all road users is of paramount importance," says Minister Fritz.
Minister Fritz continues, "as the custodians of the road, I encourage all traffic officers to be vigilant and proactive as far as possible. People will be anxious to get to their destinations, so when we stop them, let us ensure that they understand we are not there to inconvenience their trip, but in fact to add value to the experience of a safe road trip".
"The Department of Community Safety engaged with the public transport industry, which includes the Southern African Bus Operators Association (SABOA) and Cape Taxi Council, to encourage road safety compliance amongst their members. Drivers and operators were encouraged to present their vehicle for free vehicle inspections at identified roadworthy centres throughout the province. I am encouraged that many people have opted to do this. This is the start of doing the right thing. This is where the journey as a road safety activist starts."
"Fatigue management is one of our focal areas - fatigue is a major contributing factor to some of the most tragic accidents we have seen, especially on long straight roads."
"Speed is another killer on our roads. Public transport vehicles especially will be stopped and checked at Point A, given a colour-coded sticker with details of time stopped, number of passengers, registration number etc, and then checked again at Point B. This will allow us to see whether any additional passengers were picked up along the way, and whether the driver was speeding. We know what the travelling time is between checkpoints, so if a driver arrives at the second checkpoint in less time than what is needed to safely cover the distance, we will know that the speed limit was exceeded, and the driver will face the full might of the law."
"I have said it before, and I will say it again. If you drink and drive, you're a killer. There will be no mercy for drunk drivers. Not only are they a danger to themselves, but they put each and every road user they encounter at risk. Our officers will act without fear or favour," says Minister Fritz.
"Pedestrian fatalities is most concerning as well, and I want to encourage pedestrians to stay off the freeways, and when they do walk by the side of the road, that they wear visible clothing and walk facing oncoming traffic."
Transport and Public Works
Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, Robin Carlisle: "The Easter Season is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with our friends and families. Many of us will be travelling throughout our beautiful province and the rest of the country to enjoy special moments with our loved ones. Tragically, these periods are often overshadowed by the unnecessary loss of lives on our roads mainly because of irresponsible driving behaviour by some motorists".
"I urge all road users to take personal responsibility for the safety of their passengers and other road users to make our roads safer. Don't put the lives of other road users at risk of an injury or death by ignoring the laws of the road. If we all take our responsibility towards roads safety seriously, we can save lives during this period and beyond."
"Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are on standby along the Province's main road networks and hospital staff at all district and central hospitals are prepared for the Easter break," says Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha. The Department of Health staff and facilities are fully operational and ready along the high-accident zones on the N1 and N2. Additional paramedics, back-up services and other health staff are on standby for any eventualities.
The Easter break is, unfortunately, notorious for emergencies varying in degrees of severity, from children with injuries from unforeseen accidents to the sad reality of innocent victims affected by accidents caused by drunk driving and family violence aggravated by alcohol abuse.
At the province's three district hospitals along the N1 - Worcester Hospital, Laingsburg Hospital and Beaufort West Hospital - staff have ensured that there are sufficient resources to manage the influx of patients.
Status at Worcester Hospital:
- The Emergency Unit is able to manage 30 patients.
- The secondary care level facility has identified more experienced doctors and nurses to be working casualty over the long weekends and all their specialist consultants are on call.
- In the case of a major incident, more staff will be available - in accordance with the Disaster Management Plan which is practised on a monthly basis.
- The facility has a helipad for EMS helicopters to fly patients out.
- EMS ambulances and paramedics will be deployed Status at Beaufort-West Hospital and Laingsburg Hospital:
- EMS will be ready at the Leeu-Gamka Ambulance Station, strategically positioned between Laingsburg and Beaufort West.
- Both hospitals are able to manage ten to 12 injured patients at a time.
- Both towns have paramedics on standby who will automatically transfer patients via helicopter or ambulance to Laingsburg, Beaufort West or Worcester Hospital depending on severity of injury and hospital capacity.
- As a rule over long weekends, Emergency Units usually experience a constant flow of patients, due to accidents and general medical conditions.
- Minister Botha said it is important for people to understand that those patients with life threatening conditions and young babies - triaged as red - will receive priority above patients with non-life threatening conditions.
EMS's rescue vehicles will be prominant along the N2 at Hermanus, Heidelberg, Riversdale, Mossel Bay and George. Minister Botha will visit a roadblock near Plettenberg Bay tomorrow (Thursday) to greet holidaymakers. Minister Botha says: "It is important for EMS to be visible and have a strong presence on the roads, as a reminder to the public to be vigilant and cautious".
Status at George Hospital:
- At present, because of upgrades and renovations, the Emergency Unit can accommodate 22 patients. Primary Health Carers will assist with less serious cases and minor injuries.
- Experienced doctors are on call for all the major disciplines, with specialist consultants on call for all major departments.
- A second stand-by team will be available to open a second theatre, if required.
- The hospital will discharge as many patients as possible before the start of the long weekend to ensure the availability of beds.
- Emergency CT-scans, X-rays, the laboratory and blood services will be available 24 hours per day.
- All emergency power units will be tested.
Status at Caledon, Swellendam and Riversdale Hospitals:
- A total of ten to 12 injured patients can be managed at the same time.
- Additional doctors and nurses are available and on call.
- EMS paramedics will be on standby or paramedics will automatically transfer patients via helicopter or ambulance to Worcester, George and/or Tygerberg Hospitals depending on severity of injury and hospital capacity.
- The facilities all have a well-practiced Disaster Management plan in place.
The hospitals in coastal towns - Hermanus, Mossel Bay and Knysna- expect a variety of patients from out of town as visitors flock to the seaside for the long weekends.
- Mossel Bay and Knysna Hospitals will refer serious cases to George Hospital.
- Hermanus Hospital will refer serious cases to Worcester Hospital.
- All district hospitals have good EMS support, and are able to accommodate Air Emergency Rescue.
- All facilities have access to medical personnel that will avail themselves should their services be required.
Five EMS helicopters are on standby in Cape Town and Oudtshoorn to fly to the main routes in case of major accidents. Provincial operations will be extended to include Freedom Day celebrations and Workers Day activities where many people have extended their break to include the additional public holidays.
South Africa signed the Moscow declaration where we committed ourselves to halving road fatalities by 2014. Our Safely Home Campaign is geared towards this goal. However, for this campaign to succeed, we need the support and cooperation of all road users.
Drive with your headlights on, day and night and commit yourself to road safety today. With your help, we can get everyone Safely Home.
For Western Cape Minister of Health
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 082 771 8834
Fax: 021 483 4143
For Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
Tel: 021 483 3873
Cell: 078 8877 004
Fax: 086 602 9861
For Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works
Tel: 021 483 8954
Cell: 083 641 9691