The City of Johannesburg said it would be intensifying its fight against attacks on its medics and the hijackings of their vehicles. According to a Sowetan report, it said it had identified six troublesome areas to which police would now escort medical staff: Alexandra; Johannesburg’s inner city; Cosmo City; Matholeville ; Orange Farm; and Doornfontein.
Since the beginning of January, there have been more than 10 incidents in which medics have been attacked. The city’s David Tembe said two recent incidents took place in Cosmo City extension 2 in Roodepoort and in Dobsonville, Soweto.
To curb these incidents, the city will partner with the police when responding to emergency calls between 10pm and 6am.
Meanwhile, an ER24 medic is recovering after he was assaulted while transporting a man from an accident scene in Potchefstroom. News24 reports that ER24 was called to the scene in Paul Street at 19:25 on Monday of last week, to attend to a man who was trapped after his bakkie crashed through a fence and into a residence. According to ER24, the man’s father hit the medic in the face while en route to the hospital.
“Using the situational and self-awareness training received from ER24, the medic was able to defend himself from further attacks by managing to pull the vehicle over safely and remove himself from the situation,” said ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring.
The assailant then got out of the ambulance and into a bakkie that had been following behind.
The report says ER24 offered trauma counselling to the medic and put him on light duty to help him cope. “He’s doing well, and he was checked by the doctor. The medic is still in good spirits,” Meiring said. But the events that led to the violence is a mystery. “Even my medic says he doesn’t know what happened. He was driving and the father just snapped,” Meiring said, adding that the man had since been arrested.
The report says the issue of attacks on emergency responders has come under the spotlight again recently, following a number of incidents. The Johannesburg Metro Police Department officers would now escort emergency vehicles to so-called problematic areas. ER24 also requests escorts when an area has been identified as dangerous. “We do have areas where we request the assistance of the local authorities, but we can’t utilise it for every call – it’s just not feasible. We have to be very careful and we can’t say: ‘No we can’t go to this call’,” said Meiring.
A 2005 US National EMS Management Association publication found that 52% of responders reported that a patient had assaulted them, and many EMS workers hid their injuries from employers.
The report says in South Africa, the South African Emergency Personnel’s Union (SAEPU) called on Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to act on attacks on paramedics.
Sowetan report News24 report