Attacks on paramedics increasing in KZN, WC, Gauteng and FS

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Health worker unionists are struggling to understand why communities are attacking ambulance workers trying to save lives, with attacks increasing in in KwaZulu-Natal‚ the Western CapeGauteng and Free State.

The Times reports that commenting on the recent attack on an ambulance in Pietermaritzburg‚ the union said attacks are increasing in KwaZulu-Natal‚ the Western Cape‚ Gauteng and Free State.

The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) general secretary Noel Desfontaines said: "It is unacceptable that Emergency Medical Services members must operate in these conditions. The fact that members of communities prey on those who serve them‚ is deplorable."

Hospersa says amongst options discussed with various role-players to protect medical staff are police escorts for ambulances‚ violent incident training for EMS workers‚ as well as proposals to start issuing ambulances with firearms.

"While the South African Police Services (SAPS) has started escorting some ambulances on calls to so-called red zones in the Cape Town area‚ the logistics and timing involved proved to be problematic up to this stage."

The report says Hospersa has also called for the Health Ministry to consider requesting the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist with these challenges. “We want to see government doing more to protect EMS members‚” said Desfontaines. “The response to this problem is too slow and many of our good proposals seem to be falling on deaf ears. We are busy strategising on how to escalate this matter to national level‚ as it has now truly become a national problem.”

The Times report

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