Eastern Cape Health MEC Ms Helen Sauls-August has announced that the department is roping in law enforcement agencies and security sector to deal with the spate of sporadic attacks on ambulances in various districts in the Province.
In the past four weeks, 11 ambulances responding to emergency calls and transporting patients to health facilities were attacked in Mzamomhle, Keiskamahoek, Dimbaza, Peddie, King Williams Town, Alice, Fort Beaufort, Tsholomnqa and Duncan Village. These cases have all been reported to South African Police Services in the relevant police stations. They have also been referred to the crime intelligence and State Security for further, specialized investigation. There have been no fatalities on the attacks.
MEC Helen Sauls-August condemns the attacks on the ambulances which endanger lives of both patients and emergency personnel. "Emergency Services is there to save lives of the most vulnerable and indigent people who require urgent medical attention at our health facilities. Attacks on these emergency vehicles means fewer vehicles will be available to respond to emergency calls," Helen Sauls-August said.
She said the department will engage the security sector to arrest the situation and stressed a need for community support in preventing further attacks. "We call on all communities to be on the lookout for attacks on EMS personnel and vehicles. They must immediately alert South African Police Service or call our 24 hour customer careline," she said.
She commends the bravery of women and men who, despite these attacks continue to deliver services to communities.
The Department is committed to ensuring the safety of emergency personnel and patients on transit to health facilities. It calls out on communities to assist in bringing the culprits forward, but also to ensure that when ambulances respond to emergency calls they are protected by the community.
People can report the attacks immediately to the SAPS number (08600 10111) or Departmental 24hr call centre ((0800 032 364).
Issued by: Eastern Cape Health