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EC Health cracks down on ambulance attacks

Eastern Cape – The Department of Health – outraged by continuous attacks on ambulances in the province – has come up with a plan to combat the problem.

This comes following 11 attacks on emergency services vehicles in the past four weeks.

Health MEC Helen Sauls August has announced that the department will be roping in law enforcement agencies and the security sector to deal with the spate of attacks on ambulances in various districts in the province.

“Emergency services are there to save the lives of the most vulnerable and indigent people when they require urgent medical attention at our health facilities. Attacks on these emergency vehicles mean fewer vehicles will be available to respond to emergency calls,” department spokesman Lwandile Sicwesha said.

“We are working with SAPS, traffic and safety officials to ensure that those routes where ambulances are targeted will be protected.”

Second plan

“Our second plan is to urge community members to alert us immediately wherever there has been an ambulance attack. Communities must assist us in bringing the culprits forward, but also ensure that when ambulances respond to emergency calls they are protected by the community,” Sicwesha said.

The 11 recent attacks were on ambulances responding to emergency calls to transport patients to health facilities.

“As from now Buffalo City and Amathole districts have been identified as those with the highest number of attack incidents. We are working with law enforcement to investigate exactly what is the cause of the attacks and why people are targeting services that are benefiting the community,” he said.

He added that campaigns will be conducted with communities so that Community Forums remain well informed and ready to help.

The department is committed to ensuring the safety of emergency personnel and patients in transit to health facilities. People can report the attack immediately to the SAPS on 08600 10 111 or the department’s 24-hour call centre on 0800 032 364.

An edited version of this story was published by Health24.

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