Paramedics Under Siege Are Too Frightened to Serve
The Indepentant via YellowBrix
March 10, 2010
“I’m getting out of here right now. It feels almost like it happened to me,” said another female paramedic, who lives in Durban Deep, and was busy packing her belongings when The Star visited on Sunday.
“Everybody knows why we won’t go in there, but the people in the community won’t understand,” said one Joburg Emergency Management Services (JEMS) officer.
All JEMS paramedics asked not to be identified as they had been prohibited from speaking to the media and feared losing their jobs.
Another paramedic said government ambulances bore the brunt of the attacks. “We get stones thrown at us and assaulted, particularly on a Friday and Saturday in the townships,” the paramedic said.
He added that paramedics sometimes had to ask for police escorts when going into known danger areas, which sometimes delayed their response by up to an hour.
“You get held up at gunpoint and told that if you treat this patient, they’ll shoot you. Sometimes you have people throwing bricks at you and sometimes have your equipment stolen,” said Neels Loots of the private ambulance company ParamedicSA.
He and other paramedics admitted that some of their peers carried firearms, even though it was against the policy of their companies.
JEMS spokesperson Nana Radebe said: “This is an isolated incident. Safety measures will be put in place to ensure that something like this does not happen again.”