CPUT hosted an EMS Safety Symposium where emergency services personnel, including paramedics and firefighters, took part in a visual demonstration in Bellville depicting the grave dangers they face on a daily basis. Photo: Twitter

Cape Town – Between January and October this year, there have been 56 attacks on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff in the Western Cape.

On Wednesday, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) hosted an EMS Safety Symposium where emergency services personnel, including paramedics and firefighters, took part in a visual demonstration in Bellville depicting the grave dangers they face on a daily basis and using make-up to illustrate the injuries sustained. 

EMS heads, academics and government representatives met to discuss possible solutions to the state of affairs, with firefighters and especially paramedics increasingly becoming the soft targets of criminals.

Often robbed of their cellphones, medical equipment and other valuable items while attending to patients, Deputy Health Minister Mathume Phaahla said a dialogue is needed among all role players to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control, the SABC reported. 

He said it's concerning that innocent people get hurt while trying to save lives. Currently, police are escorting EMS workers into hot spots where EMS crews have been attacked more than once, sometimes being robbed and assaulted.

Dr Shaheem de Vries, director of Emergency Medical Services, told EWN: “This is a community issue. If we’re going to solve it, then we need to solve it in the communities, not by coming up with plans but by talking to one another, supporting one another and collaborating.”