Labour unions join forces with ambulance personnel on their safety

Directorate: Communications for Western Cape Government Health. on behalf of the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Chamber.

Western Cape Government Health, together with the representative unions ( PSA, Nehawu, Hospersa, Denosa, Nupsaw ) in the Western Cape Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Chamber (WCPHSDSBC) have joined together to raise their concerns  for the safety of ambulance personnel and other health workers  when they render life saving services to citizens in the province.

Western Cape Health Minister, Theuns Botha, says “I will be meeting with our EMS management to discuss the possible workable options that would dissolve their risk situation and also meet their needs. We will not allow a situation that will continue to put our staff at risk. There have been discussions with SAPS as well. As a government, we need to work closely with Community Safety and community structures to ensure the safety of EMS staff. This close working relationship is always relevant in a volatile situation where people’s lives are at stake.”

The recent spate of attacks on  EMS personnel has included staff being held at gunpoint and robbed of expensive lifesaving equipment.  Currently, ambulance practitioners are being escorted by police when there is a risk of gang violence.  However, due to the police having to conduct patrols in all communities  they are not always available to  accompany paramedics into these gang hotspot areas. .  Both the Western Cape Health Department and unions in the WCPHSDSBC  cannot allow a situation whereby ambulance personnel  are at risk of losing  their lives whilst trying to save the lives of others.

Violence  against  EMS staff has also resulted in a  tremendous drop in the response times of emergency medical calls due to long delays when  police escorts are not readily available. TGang violence has also had a psychological and emotional impact  on staff , as they  have also been caught up in the cross fire at times.

We call upon all stakeholders, including the public to have a zero tolerance for any action that threatens the safety of our health workers as they must be allowed to fulfil their constitutional duties to take care of the ill. The equipment in an ambulance vehicle  has been provided  to save lives.  If the situation continues, ambulance services, in particular rapid response to critical incidents, will be severely affected, thus contributing to loss of lives. Health workers are there to serve all the citizens of the Western Cape and we condemn any threats of their lives and interference with their work.

The Western Cape Government urges t all communitiesto look out for the safety of our personnel, if you see anyone endangering the lives of our EMS personnel call the police immediately and report it.