More ambulances on the road this festive season

21 Dec 2023 | SANews

The Department of Health has announced that it has intensified Emergency Medical Services (EMS) with over 1 540 ambulances deployed across the country’s major routes and strategic points and hotspots. 

According to the department, this move aims to accelerate a turnaround time for emergency medical response during the festive season, a period associated with a high demand for emergency medical services.

“This number will be complemented by private sector ambulances as part of existing service level agreements entered with provinces to beef up EMS to ensure quick response to major accidents and to prevent avoidable loss of lives resulting from accidents,” the department explained.

The department is appealing to communities to join hands with government and law enforcement agencies during this period to create an enabling environment for frontline healthcare workers, especially nurses and paramedics to perform their lifesaving duties freely without fear of both verbal and physical violence and aggression.

“Health workers have fallen victims of violence and crime in the line of duty over the months and recent years in the country and this can only be stopped if communities become protectors than by-standers.

“Violence against health workers is unacceptable because it does not only negatively impact on their psychological and physical well-being, but also affects their job motivation and has potential to compromise the quality of care and puts health-care provision at risk.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines attacks against health care as any act of verbal or physical violence or obstruction or threat of violence that interferes with the availability, access and delivery of curative and preventive health services during emergencies.

The department said emergency medical personnel play an essential role in the health system by providing timely and appropriate medical care to patients in need.

“They respond to emergencies to save lives and risk theirs. It is not possible to have ambulances accompanied by police or armed private security, hence communities need to play a role in ending attacks against paramedics and other health workers.”

According to the WHO, health workers are at high risk of violence all over the world with between 8% and 38% of health workers suffering physical violence at some point in their careers.

Some of the associated risks during the festive season include vehicle accidents, domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse, and drowning.

In a life threatening emergency, people must dial 112 from a landline or a cellphone and be aware that the call centre agents will ask questions to enable them to dispatch an ambulance accordingly.

Important details that will be required when you make the call include name, phone number, address, nearest landmark and the patient’s current medical status.

“Ensure that you get a call reference number before the end of the call to be used when you follow up on the progress of the call.”

All health facilities will remain open to enable South Africans to access health services.

Some of the major routes to be prioritised for ambulances in provinces include:

  • The N2, N10, R61 and R72 in the Eastern Cape.
  • The N1, N3, N5, N6 and N8 in the Free State.
  • The N1, N3, N4, N12, N17, R21, R59 and R101 in Gauteng.
  • The N2, N3 and R56 in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • The N1, N11, R36, R37, R71, R101, R518, R524, R528 and R579 in Limpopo.
  • The N2, N3, N4, N11, N12, N17, R23, R38, R40 and R573 in Mpumalanga.
  • The N4, N14, N12, N18 and R30 in the North West.
  • The N1, N7, N8, N10, N12, N14, N18, R31 and R382 in the Northern Cape.
  • The N1, N2, N7, R27 and R62 in the Western Cape.


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