Minister Botha Speaks at Official Opening of Vredendal EMS Station
The first ambulance station to serve the Vredendal community was originally based in Vanrhynsdorp with the local health inspector operating as the ambulance practitioner. But over the years, emergency calls increased to the point where Vredendal was flagged for an EMS base. It is no wonder - this facility handles about 540 emergency calls per month. On average, 74% priority calls are serviced within 15 minutes. In general, EMS aims to respond to calls in urban areas within 15 minutes and in rural areas within 40 minutes. The next district hospital facility is Paarl Hospital - 274 kilometres from here, and Tygerberg Hospital is 326 kilometres from here.
The station serves the surrounding towns – Klawer, Trawal, Vanrhynsdorp, Lutzville, Koekenaap, Ebenaezer, Papendorp, Strandfontein and Doringbaai. The facility employs 21 operational staff, all with different levels of emergency care qualifications. They will be complemented by eight emergency workers at our satellite station in Bitterfontein – 118 kilometres from here.
At present, this Western Cape Government is constructing the largest number of capital projects ever in our history. In total, we are working on 75 capital projects valued at almost R4.5 billion. We are proud of the growing infrastructure for EMS. This year, we opened new EMS units for the Ceres Hospital and the ambulance station at Leeu-Gamka on the N1, and also completed the EMS Unit at Khayelitsha Hospital and Tulbagh Hospital. This EMS station was constructed at a cost of R5.6 million for the building, and R667 000 for equipment and furniture. Construction took a year – December 2010 to November 2011. Broadly speaking, the building provides protected parking for our ambulances and emergency vehicles, office space and a training facility with CCTV surveillance.
Emergency Medical Services: The Bigger Picture
Emergency Medical Services is responsible for the provision of emergency medical transport including inter-hospital transfers and planned patient transport. This year, the division received R701 million or 4.8% of the provincial health budget. At present, EMS has 52 stations in five rural districts. They have approximately 1 500 staff members. We have 248 ambulances in our fleet, which are upgraded every 200 000 to 300 000 km.
Employment in the Western Cape
Considering that employment is our greatest challenge in rural areas such as the West Coast, I would like to say a few words about this challenge for the DA-led Western Cape Government. Nationally, the number of unemployed is at 4.5 million. Due to the growth in unemployment nationally in the last number of years, a negative effect on the general welfare of Western Cape society has been experienced. In the Western Cape, unemployment has increased by more than 150 000 to 546 000 during the first quarter of 2012. Added to that there is the fact that the Western Cape experiences, perhaps more acutely than most other provinces, particular types of social ills, such as interpersonal violence, abuse of women and children, and abuse of alcohol and drugs. In collaboration with a variety of stakeholders from businesses, NGOs, academia and others, we are putting the majority of our strategic resources behind this. The aim is to address the problems of persistent poverty, inequality and unemployment. Economic activity has developed to higher levels in the Western Cape than in most other provinces, and service delivery is better in a number of fields. Indeed, largely due to the efforts of the DA government in the City of Cape Town and in the Western Cape Government, over 84% of households now have access to basic services, including water, sanitation, refuse removal and electricity.
Thank you to each and every person who contributed to the completion of the Vredendal EMS unit. Now we have a hospital and a unit that can work Better Together.