Paramedics are seen as soft targets for criminals to attack while they are attending to emergency calls. File Picture
Cape Town - Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff will withdraw their services if their safety can not be assured.

Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and its affiliates in the public health and rail passenger service; Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa), The Public Servant Association (PSA) and United National Transport Union (Untu), are calling for the army to be deployed over the festive season, when they said attacks on EMS and trains are at their highest. Hospersa vice-president Gregory Rafferty said if they do not get assistance the alternative is for community members to drop patients at the nearest police station where EMS staff will be stationed.

“Our lives are just as important as the others. Why must we always be the victims? We cannot allow these things to happen over and over again.”

Rafferty said as much as the army would help, the community also needed to step up and play a part. He said he has been in the service for 27 years and said the attacks are at their worst.

“This is a national issue, but the Western Cape is the worst affected. The department doesn’t want to take responsibility.”

The most recent attack on an ambulance crew lead to the death of an 8-year-old boy who was transported to hospital after being involved in a car crash.

EMS provincial manager Koos Kruger said the army would help in starting to stabilise communities.

Fedusa president Godfrey Selematsela will lead a march to Parliament on Tuesday.

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Cape Argus