Two paramedics were robbed in Seawinds, a suburb near Muizenberg, on Sunday, making it the 56th incident of attacks on ambulance personnel in the Western Cape this year.
Speaking to News24, City of Cape Town Emergency Services spokesperson Robert Daniels said it is upsetting that ambulance and paramedic attacks have become the norm.
According to Daniels, the paramedics were called to an address in Seawinds on Sunday morning, but found that the patient had already died shortly before their arrival. The pair made their way back to the ambulance to fetch the documentation required to record a death. While they were finding the appropriate documents, the paramedics were attacked by the robbers who hit one of them in the face and then made off with a cellphone.
After the incident, the area was declared a ‘red zone’, meaning that ambulances and paramedics were not allowed into it without police escorts for 24 hours. The declaration was lifted on Monday, and the now traumatised paramedics have been booked off work until Wednesday.Both paramedics will be assessed to determine when they will be ready to rejoin the workforce.
“We are living in a criminal-infested society… We must examine the relationship between community policing forums and EMS to ensure there are systems of co-operation when a call for help arrives,” Deputy Minister of Health, Mathume Phaahla, said at the CPUT EMS Safety Symposium last week.
The Department of Health and other safety stakeholders are brainstorming interventions to prevent these attacks on ambulances and paramedics. One intervention that may be implemented is the training of neighbourhood watch and Community Policing Forum (CPF) members to be able to be first responders and provide critical medical care until ambulance staff are able to reach the scene of an emergency.
READ: Attacks on ambulances cause delay in responses