KZN MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has called on the public to alert law enforcement authorities when they witness unsavoury incidents involving EMS vehicles.
He said this during the handover of 20 ambulances to the provincial government’s emergency medical services (EMS) worth R15 million at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last week, just in time before the start of the peak December holiday season.
According to Dhlomo, KZN’s EMS is the largest in the country operating more than 300 ambulances across the province and employs at least 2500 paramedics. “We are a province that is home to more than 10 million people which amounts to 21 percent of the population of the country. At least 80 percent of these people depend on public health sector for their medical and health needs,” said Dhlomo.
He said the new fleet was introduced to top up and replace, the current number of ambulances that the province has. “The ambulances that we are handing over are fully equipped to an Intermediate Life Support level, and are in line with the new EMS regulations. They will be distributed to all 11 districts to complement the existing operational fleet during the festive season, and beyond. We see investments in new Ambulances as a means to enhance the working environment for this sector whose nature of work is characterised by emergency and urgency,” he said.
Dhlomo said as the department, they were always striving to have a sufficient number of ambulances to meet the demand, hence the introduction of the new vehicles.
“We have a responsibility to our communities and visitors to always offer a high level of pre-hospital care by skilled and dedicated ambulance staff. I therefore wish to emphasise that the 20 ambulances that we are handing over are just for the time being. Early in the next financial year, we will certainly be adding significantly to this fleet,” he said.
He expressed his shock and dismay at ‘ugly incidents’ where paramedics get robbed and vehicles get hijacked while en-route to helping people who are in distress. “That is always a sign that something is wrong with our society. It is something we must never allow to happen. These vehicles are not ‘government property’, they belong to the public. It is therefore up to each and every one of us to alert law enforcement authorities when such things happen.
“We are relying on you to safeguard this property, which is made available to assist those requiring emergency medical care during their time of need. It only when that happens that we can successfully deliver on our noble mandate of delivering a long and healthy life for all South Africans,” said Dhlomo.