By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, WC Minister of Health:
Today, the Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, released injury and incident statistics for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the Western Cape for the 2015/16 festive season.
“Unfortunately, each year during the holiday period we experience an increase in road fatalities, drowning or near drowning incidents and interpersonal violence related injuries. In order for the Western Cape Government to roll out appropriate strategies to the challenges of the festive season, we need to understand the trends” said Minister Mbombo.
Emergency Medical Personnel play a key role in providing critical services to Western Cape communities every day. They often work under very difficult circumstances especially during the holiday season with an increased number of people visiting the Western Cape.
Annually, our Department of Health strives to accommodate the influx of holiday makers to our province.
We put in place active measures to ensure our EMS are prepared for the peak summer season with a specific focus on:
- Road traffic injuries on dates where people are travelling on main routes.
- Drowning and near drowning injuries related incidents to large numbers of people at beaches
- Interpersonal violence and injuries related to alcohol abuse
We came up with plans to address these risks in order to provide rapid and effective response to all incidents.
I wish to compliment all EMS staff and volunteers for their compassion, dedication and professionalism over this period. We know this work is not easy as you sacrifice time with loved ones to add value to the health service offering in this province.
Between December 2015 and January 2016, EMS dealt with more than 17 500 emergency incidents.
Overall, EMS incidents increased by almost 8% of which 80% of total incidents reported are attributed to interpersonal violence.
The statistics and incident types are reported as follows from the period 4 Dec 2015 – 13 January 2016:
Interpersonal violence incidents
- A total of 14 656 cases of violence were reported;
- Assault due to dangerous weapons/other rank highest with 8056 cases reported which accounts for 60% of the total of cases;
- Physical assault is 2nd highest at 2092 incidents amounting to 15% of cases.
Interpersonal violence was highest in the Metro, totaling 6505 cases; Cape Winelands ranked 2nd highest with 2648 and Eden district 3rd with 2440 cases.
Transport related incidents
- A total of 2341 incidents were reported;
- Light motor vehicle incidents ranked the highest with a total number of 1256 (close to 50% of all transport injuries);
- Pedestrian incidents were the 2nd highest at 725 incidents which amounts to 31%.
Transport injuries were reported highest in the Metro totaling 1292 cases, Cape Winelands ranked 2nd with 327, and Eden district 3rd with 302.
Water related injuries
- A total of 177 drowning and/or near drowning incidents were reported
- 89 were trauma incidents (close to 50%)
Water related injuries were reported highest in the Metro totaling 103 cases and Eden ranked 2nd highest with 26 cases.
Heat exposure incidents
- A total of 64 cases of heat exposure were reported
- 48 of which were reported trauma cases (75%)
Metro also reported the highest number of heat exposure incidents at 23, Overberg District reported 15 cases and another 15 cases for Eden District.
Air Mercy assistance
- A total of 132 special incidents were reported which required aero medical assistance
- 129 were transfers between facilities
- 3 cases needed primary response assistance
Sadly, a number of these incidents handled by EMS were fatal and I would like to report as follows:
- 298 interpersonal violence cases;
- 140 fatal road crashes
- 53 fatal drowning incidents
- No heat exposure incidents were not reported in this period
Injuries forms the biggest portion of the burden of disease and these statistics provide us with insight into where we need to focus our efforts.
Based on the trends over the past festive season it is evident that interpersonal violence is the biggest contributor to injuries. Preliminary research shows that this can be attributed to substance- and alcohol abuse.
That is why the Western Cape Government (WCG) has undertaken to promote safe, healthy and inclusive communities, where citizens take active ownership of their personal safety, wellness and that of their families.
This is encapsulated crisply under our strategic goals as a province. The Departments of Health, Transport and Public Works, Social development, Community Safety and Cultural Affairs and Sport are working together allocating resources, rolling out transversal government projects and focusing particularly on communities at risk.
One of my main goals for 2016 is to encourage the people in the Western Cape to adopt a culture of mutual respect, wellness and high regard for the law. Behavioral change is everyone’s responsibility.