The incidence of paramedics being targeted by criminals while attending to patients is on the rise in SA.
The Times reports that this is according to Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi. “There is an escalation of our paramedics being attacked because when I look at other areas and not just Johannesburg‚ there’s at least one report of an incident of robbery on a monthly basis‚ whereby paramedics are attacked or robbed (of their belongings)‚” said Mulaudzi.
The report says this comes after six paramedics were robbed off nine cell phones‚ two two-way radios‚ a medical drug bag as well their wallets at approximately 4am on Sunday morning while attending to a patient in Jeppestown in east Johannesburg. The patient had been stabbed several times in the chest.
Mulaudzi said inner city areas such as greater Ellis Park‚ Jeppestown‚ Hillbrow‚ Berea‚ Park Station‚ Newtown‚ Braamfontein‚ Yeoville‚ Joubert Park‚ Fordsburg and the CBD were all areas where these attacks usually occurred. He said the Joburg EMS has partnered with private security companies working in these areas to try to protect paramedics from criminal attacks.
“We already have a strategy for the evenings where paramedics are working. We are using technology to locate where vehicles are operating and we have a partnership with private security companies working in those areas‚” added Mulaudzi. He said in the report that this came at no cost for the City of Joburg.
Mulaudzi also acknowledged that these security companies were not always available as they would sometimes be responding to their first call of duty which was the residential areas they patrolled.
The report says he urged community leaders to work hand in hand with the police to combat attacks on the very people that they needed services from.
Johan Burger‚ a senior researcher for the governance crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies‚ said these attacks were part of an overall crime problem in South Africa. “It is difficult to say this is a trend because we’ve seen paramedics being lured into a situation where they were robbed. People would call to say there’s an emergency and when they arrived at the scene‚ they were ambushed‚” said Burger. “There is not enough evidence to support the conclusion that this is a new trend. I think this is part and parcel of an overall crime problem in this country. We have seen cases whereby even the police have been ambushed in this way‚” he added.Full report in The Times