Stress of attacks keeps 50 Western Cape paramedics off sick every day

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Stress of attacks keeps 50 Western Cape paramedics off sick every day

Aphiwe Deklerk | 2017-02-07 12:55:17.0

Forty-six incidents involving EMS staff were recorded in 2016‚ including attempted hijackings‚ gang violence‚ robberies‚ stonings‚ threats with weapons and physical assaults. File photo.

Fifty Western Cape paramedics are off work with post-traumatic stress disorder at any one time.

Emergency Medical Services director Shaheem de Vries said attacks on paramedics had also led to a rash of requests for transfers to areas outside Cape Town.

“I have got members of staff that are under psychiatric care for depression relating to incidents that happened years ago‚” De Vries told the media after addressing the provincial legislature about escalating attacks on paramedics.

Forty-six incidents involving EMS staff were recorded in 2016‚ including attempted hijackings‚ gang violence‚ robberies‚ stonings‚ threats with weapons and physical assaults.

Around 50 staff members were absent at any given time with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Some of the equipment has been stolen‚ so we have to replace that. Where a vehicle has been stoned and damaged or the windows knocked in‚ there is that cost‚” said De Vries.

In his presentation to the community development committee‚ he said attacks reached their height between midnight and 3am over weekends.

The province has introduced “red zones”‚ where paramedics are forbidden without a police escort. They include Nyanga‚ considered South Africa’s murder capital‚ parts of Khayelitsha‚ Hanover Park and Gugulethu.

Vries said he feared that if a paramedic was killed‚ his colleagues would go on strike.

EMS manager Pumzile Papu told the committee that as a result of the attacks 25 paramedics had resigned to go back to their homes in the Eastern Cape‚ while others were requesting transfers to districts out of Cape Town.

“Most of them are saying ‘listen‚ this area is not safe’… as a result‚ some of them that cannot get jobs in the Eastern Cape are asking for transfers to places like Beaufort West‚ George [and] Knysna so that they can run away from Cape Town‚” said Papu.

“They want to transfer as far away as possible.”

– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE



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