Need for escorts causes EMS crew delays as SAPS not always available
Red Zones in the Cape Metro include Browns Farm Philippi, Tafelsig, Manenberg, Hanover Park and Site C Khayelitsha. Other areas described as Red Zones are Beacon Valley, Hayden Park, Nyanga, Gugulethu and New Crossroads.
These are all areas where EMS paramedics cannot enter without a police escort and this has led to a fall in response performance times to incidents in those areas, because as a result of various operational reasons, there is not always a SAPS complement available.
In the 2014/2015 financial year, there were 145 calls to Red Zone areas and 6% of the time the crews managed to respond and service incidents in less than 15 minutes. By the end of the 2018/2019 financial year in March, the crews were receiving 207 calls and only servicing 18 %of them on time.
Dr Shaheem de Vries, director of EMS at the Western Cape Department of Health, made a presentation to the standing committee on health in which he outlined the steps EMS crews had to take before accessing Red Zones.
“First they have to confirm the area is safe to enter. Next they have to ensure they’re accompanied by SAPS when they enter the Red Zone, and this often means they have to wait at certain police stations until a SAPS escort is available which can lead to valuable time lost,” said De Vries.
The issue of reliance on SAPS support also came up during an earlier presentation to the standing committee by the head of the provincial Forensic Pathology Service, Vonita Thompson. “Relations with the SAPS are an ongoing challenge that we’re having to manage with the assistance of the Department of Community Safety,” said Thompson.
In her presentation, Thompson told the legislature that as a result of the uptick in violent crime in the province, “our forensic pathologists’ case load has increased, which has a ripple effect on the conclusion of cases, including delayed release of bodies for burial”.
Thompson said by the end of March, the FPS had logged 12045 cases during the 2018/2019 year which worked out to 985 cases a month.@MwangiGithahu