Cape Town -
Two paramedics were held at gunpoint and robbed in their ambulance in Gugulethu in one of the latest attacks on medical workers, bringing the number of incidents in about a year to at least 12.
In the first two weeks of this year alone at least two incidents were reported.
And on Thursday ER24, the company from which the paramedics robbed late on Wednesday are from, said: “According to emergency workers this is not an isolated incident.
“Recently, another crew was assaulted in Eerste River.”
In a separate incident late on Wednesday, an EMS ambulance was broken into in Gugulethu, but nothing was stolen.
In an attempt to keep medics safe, the Western Cape Department of Health previously told staff that their personal safety was a primary concern, and if they felt unsafe they could leave or ask for a police escort.
On Thursday, police spokesman Frederick van Wyk reiterated that emergency personnel could approach police to be assisted where necessary.
In an ER24 statement, an advanced life support paramedic, Monradt Stockigt, described how he and a colleague were robbed shortly before 9pm on Wednesday.
Stockigt said he and a colleague had been in their ambulance in Gugulethu “when a man suddenly slammed a gun against the driver’s window”.
Stockigt, who had just attended to a patient, had been in the passenger seat.
“(The gunman) demanded that the ambulance be opened or he would shoot,” he said.
The gunman had then pushed the weapon into Stockigt’s colleague’s side and demanded money and cellphones.
Stockigt and his colleague handed over two cellphones and a handheld radio.
“The robber then tried to grab a siren remote control, but when he struggled to disconnect it, he fled on foot,” the ER24 statement said.
Neither Stockigt nor his colleague were injured.
On Thursday, ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said paramedics from the company and in the Western Cape would soon undergo an “emergency medical services in hostile environments” training course.
The course was national and the Western Cape was one of the provinces yet to receive the training.
Vermaak said he believed Stockigt and his colleague had reacted well during the incident.
“Equipment can be replaced, lives can’t,” he said.
Police were investigating a robbery case and an arrest was yet to be made.
In the first incident this year and about two weeks ago a robber held a paramedic at gunpoint and stole medical equipment in Mitchells Plain.
On Thursday, on the Facebook forum, Traffic fines, cameras & updates in Western Cape, a paramedic posted a message about the robbery of the two ER24 medics and the ambulance being broken into in Gugulethu on Wednesday.
The paramedic said: “There’s really no more respect for our EMS anymore.”
A number of people then reacted.
“So unfair and selfish towards those people that serve us,” one user said.
Another said: “That is horrendous, soon paramedics will generalise and say I don’t want to help those sort of people. Well done to those who go out everyday to save a life. Sorry that on top of helping all of us you too have to deal with the scum that steal, rob, rape and generally destroy this country/ world/ life.” (sic)
Another user said she had wanted to take an emergency medical services course, but after hearing that some people faked emergency calls to lure out paramedics who were then targeted, she had decided to put “her passion for helping others” aside.