The National Department of Health has deployed more than 1540 ambulances across the country’s major routes, strategic points, and hot spots to accelerate a turnaround time for emergency medical response over the festive season.
This comes as Western Cape traffic officials have noted an increase in drunk drivers and road accidents with 55 people killed in 45 crashes in the province since December 1.
Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the number of ambulances will be complemented by private sector ambulances as part of existing service level agreements to beef up EMS to ensure quick response to major accidents and to prevent loss of lives from accidents.
Mohale urged the public to allow health workers, especially nurses and paramedics, to perform their lifesaving duties without fear of verbal and physical violence.
“Health workers have fallen victims of violence and crime in the line of duty over the months and recent years in the country and this can only be stopped if communities become protectors rather than bystanders.
“Violence against health workers is unacceptable because it does not only negatively impact on their psychological and physical well-being, but also affects their job motivation ...” he said.
Mobility MEC Ricardo Mackenzie said traffic officers working with other authorities were out in full force but road users needed to work with them to prevent road crashes.
“The festive season is in full swing, and we are deeply concerned about the rising numbers of traffic crashes and fatalities on our roads. I have been flabbergasted watching large trucks overtaking two or three other trucks without adequate visibility. The number of passengers killed in road crashes has also increased dramatically.
“Drivers (also) do not take rest breaks to combat fatigue. We need road users to take this situation seriously and obey the rules of the road. Alarmingly, the number of arrests made for drunk driving over the last week has quadrupled from 25, in the previous week, to 103 arrests,” said Mackenzie.
A total of 15 570 fines, 55% more than the previous week, were issued for various traffic violations ranging from driver to vehicle fitness.
Nineteen vehicles were impounded and 171 were discontinued for being found to be unroadworthy.