Whole of society approach to EMS emergencies
Today (11 December 2019), Western Cape Minister of Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo acknowledged a number of Emergency First Aid Responders (EFAR) volunteers in the Cape Metropole for their contributions to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) service delivery. The EFAR volunteers of Ocean View, Retreat, Athlone, Eastern Division, Northern Division, and Southern Division received certificates of appreciation at a handover ceremony at the EMS festive season readiness event in Ocean View.
Since 2014, the Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) has supported the EFAR programme in Western Cape. To date, over 10 000 EFAR volunteers have successfully undergone training in community basic first aid and disaster relief skills. This enables communities to have immediate emergency responders available in the event of a disaster. The EFAR programme is built on the philosophy that an empowered citizen is a critical link in unlocking the potential within communities – helping them to cope better with emergencies and disasters Thus EFAR volunteers form an active part of the health system until EMS crews arrive on the scene.
The WCGH is acknowledging the importance of a whole of society approach in the response to the health needs of communities. EFAR training is one such vehicle that attempts to improve collaboration with the communities to ensure they can support EMS better and help to keep them safe.
According to Dr Shaheem De Vries, WCGH Director of EMS, the EFAR programme has rendered significant gains, not least of which relates to the continued provision of emergency services in communities regarded as red zones. “This is a direct result of the strong and committed efforts from community structures and its leadership that has permitted EMS to enjoy a measure of security and assurance whilst executing their duty.”
According to Minister Mbombo, the WCGH has identified EMS staff safety and response times as a very high priority, including measures internally to improve response time. “For this to be effective, we need to involve community members and community organisations in addressing EMS challenges. This will ensure that we create stronger collaborative partnerships, and through EFAR training, we hope to empower communities with greater urgency in medical emergencies.”
Ocean View ERAR volunteer, Lucille Constant, says despite being wheelchair-bound, she is proud to be part of the programme and to add value in her community. “For the past four years I have been able to make my contribution due to the shortage of man power in emergency situations, even if people have to knock on my door for assistance, or to refer them to someone who is able to get to the scene. The EFAR programme has taught me that every contribution could make a difference.”
Pledge your support
Public support is crucial to the work performed by our EMS crews and to keep them safe. You can do this through having your name printed on an ambulance, to be unveiled in 2020. Pledge your support to the EMS staff who risk their lives to save people. Show that you are In Support of Life, by adding your name, and telling EMS staff that they are valued and that you will help them continue to save lives. Make your pledge at https://www.westerncape.gov.za/ems-pledge
Issued by the Directorate of Communication
Spokesperson to Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo
Cell: 083 893 5200
Emergency Medical Services & Forensic Pathology Services
Cell: 073 620 4694