Western Cape Health unveils emergency services plans for the festive season

By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health:

Today, the Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, has revealed plans for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the Western Cape to tackle the high occurrence of medical emergencies this coming festive season.

“As we begin the festive season, millions of holiday makers are on our roads, across the country and mostly into the Western Cape. Research has shown us that this period is one that demands reinforced emergency services due to the high number of road crashes and fatalities. The Western Cape in particular hosts many people from across the country and international guests and that is why it is crucial that we roll out EMS contingency plans. Emergency services are usually the first responders at any incident scene and based on our experience the three major emergencies are road crashes, drowning incidents and interpersonal violence related injuries often under-scored by alcohol consumption” said Minister Mbombo.

“We are urging the people of the Western Cape and incoming visitors to please exercise caution when using our roads and visiting our well-sought-after tourist attractions and destinations. As the leaders of the Provincial Strategic Goal 3 which aims to tackle social ills and increase wellness, it is incumbent on my department to raise awareness about the alcohol related harms like interpersonal violence and road crashes” continues Mbombo.

The Department of Health has put in place measures to ensure that our emergency personnel is well equipped to deal with the increased demand.

The following risks have been identified:

  • Road traffic injuries on dates when people are travelling on main routes;
  • Drowning and near drowning injury related incidents at our beaches; and
  • Interpersonal violence and injuries related to alcohol abuse.

Road Traffic Injuries

EMS will, on the dates where there is high volume of traffic, provide extended resources on the major arterial routes out of Cape Town including the N1, N2, N7, R62, R61 and R27.

All EMS Medical Rescue vehicles will be positioned on main routes throughout the Province for quick response and to alert road users to the dangers of speeding and drunken driving.

The N1 route will have rescue vehicle and ambulance response available in Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Leeu Gamka with both paramedic and Rescue Technician available. In addition, a twenty three seater bus will be located in Beaufort West to transport uninjured victims of public transport crashes.

The EMS management will perform routine checks on all our emergency vehicles to ensure that the equipment is in good working order.

Drowning and near drowning injuries

Metro EMS will provide medical support to beaches at Hermanus, Camps Bay, Gordons Bay, Monwabisi, Stranfontein and Muizenberg by supporting NSRI Stations 17, 2, 9, 16 and 10 respectively with Intermediate Life Support Emergency Care Officers on the dates that large numbers of people are expected at beaches. Traditional beach days have been identified as 25 December 2015, 26 December 2015, 1 January 2016 and 2 January 2016.

Interpersonal violence and injuries

EMS will place ambulances within striking distance of hotspots to facilitate rapid response on the dates where alcohol consumption and large scale partying is expected. From 20 December 2015 to 3 January 2016 there are usually ongoing parties across the province and usually interpersonal violence is prevalent.

In addition, there will be satellite operational points that will provide emergency services equipped with mass causality trailers, incident commanders and ambulances across the metro. Strategic areas will include the V&A Waterfront area more so on New Year’s Eve.

We are confident that the Western Cape Emergency Medical Services is well prepared for the upcoming festive season. I would also like to thank our dedicated women and men who forfeit time with their families to provide this essential service during this busy time.