EC Health Department pleas for ambulance drivers to be protected

Two ambulance drivers had a gun pointed at them while on a call out in Motherwell on Thursday night.
Two ambulance drivers had a gun pointed at them while on a call out in Motherwell on Thursday night.
Image: iStock

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has called on communities to protect ambulance drivers to avoid slow response times and no-go areas from being enforced.

This comes after a gunman pointed a firearm at two ambulance drivers in Motherwell on Thursday night.

Provincial Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the two workers were driving in Ngoma Street NU9, Motherwell, looking for a house when a gunman approached them.

Kupelo said the drivers managed to speed away but a patient in the ambulance fell off the stretcher, injuring her leg.

“When ambulance crews are scared to go to some areas, and rightfully so because of the thuggery by some residents, that will create no go areas, which cannot be tolerated in a democratic South Africa. The continued threat against our Emergency Medical Service workers who go out to communities to deliver a crucial service, appears to be continuing unabated. Similar cases have been reported in other parts of the province,” he said.

Kupelo said the department did not want to resort to no-go areas but added that the safety of the staff was a priority.

Police escort requirements for certain areas was also being looked into but Kupelo highlighted that this would delay response times to call-outs.

“Eastern Cape communities should always protect ambulance crews when out attending to calls from sick people in their neighbourhoods, instead of threatening them.

“When communities sit and do nothing while Emergency Medical Service workers are threatened by thugs … the consequences for people that desperately need medical help will be dire as they will not receive the help they need.”

Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said a case of pointing a firearm was opened at the police station on Friday morning.

“According to the report, they were driving in the street when they approached a white car parked on the side of the road. As they approached, a man got out of the car and allegedly started shouting at them while pointing a firearm at them,” he said.

“No shots were fired and the drivers managed to ride off.”

Beetge said the case was under investigation and no arrests had yet been made.