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Reports that up to 10 of Kimberley’s ambulances are simultaneously in for repairs are cause for serious concern. And the problem was highlighted on Monday when a homeless boy fell out of a wheelchair in a busy road and had to wait for nearly two hours for an ambulance to arrive.
The boy was found lying in the street by employees of businesses in Long Street at around 11am on Monday morning, after he had apparently fallen out of his wheelchair.
He was found with a huge hole in his stomach and a gash to his face. The latter had apparently been sustained when he fell on the tar road.
He was being pushed by another boy, but the two were unable to relate what exactly happened or why the victim was wearing a hospital armband and short drip.
He was identified by the armband. The two boys said that he was discharged earlier in morning from the Kimberly Hospital.
An employee of a nearby business immediately called the provincial Emergency Medical Services (EMS) but apparently the phone was dropped in her ear.
After several more attempts, an ambulance eventually arrived, nearly two hours after the boy was found. He was taken back to the Kimberly Hospital.
The DA on Monday blamed the Northern Cape Department of Health for the shortage of ambulances, saying that the backlog on repairs, with some ambulances out of service for months already, were placing an unnecessary burden on the available ambulances in the Kimberly area.
The party’s Northern Cape premier candidate, Andrew Louw, said that the situation could be deadly if medical emergencies were not responded to in time.
“The Department of Health has had this problem for some time. According to the department’s latest annual report, the Province has a concerning shortage of ambulances already. Against a target of 1.3 rostered ambulances per 10 000 people in operation, the department currently only has 0.4 rostered ambulances per 10 000 people,” Louw said.
He also slammed Premier Sylvia Lucas for assuring the people of the Province on Friday (during her State of the Province Address) that the EMS management had been strengthened by the appointment of qualified personnel reporting to a qualified director.
“The time for fallacies and fables are over. Emergency medical services are a crucial component in providing access to quality healthcare to all the people in the Province.”
He added that the speedy repair and maintenance of ambulances was crucial to enable essential services to save people’s lives.
At the time of going to press, the Northern Cape Department of Health had not responded to inquiries regarding the ambulance shortage. - Diamond Fields Advertiser