With reports that some hospitals are overburdened, Briefly.co.za investigates the middleman: the South African Ambulance Services. We assess both the public and private emergency medical response sectors and give you all you need to know for contacting an ambulance during a medical emergency.
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"for equipment, for vehicle designs, for provisions, they behave the organisation etc. So this is an exciting development and it will include private services as well so everyone will operate the same standards."
Read on for more information regarding the public and private emergency response sectors.
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How does ambulance services work in South Africa?
The National Health Act governs the dispatch of trained and registered paramedics to provide emergency medical help. Each ambulance has two paramedics on board and is stocked with life-saving medical equipment and medications.
The South African Ambulance fleet consists of 5000 vehicles, including off-road vehicles for remote access, although in 2018, only 1971 public emergency vehicles were running. The trip could cost you between R1000 and R5000 depending, but you may not, however, be refused medical attention based on your capacity to pay. In addition, many medical aid companies provide coverage for emergency services, so make a note to check with your medical provider.
Government Ambulance Services
Each ambulance that is dispatched is equipped to deal with Basic, Intermediate and Advanced life support, including specialised Neonatal Transfer and Adult ICU Retrieval Teams. Although each ambulance is required to have at least one paramedic trained in Intermediate life support, this is not always the case. There is currently a shortage of qualified paramedics, so the standard has been dropped to include paramedics trained in Basic life support.
HealthNET is a medical transportation system used for non-emergency travel for patients and can be booked online or through clinics or hospitals. This service is encouraged as many ambulances requests are made for non-emergency cases, putting unnecessary strain on the medical emergency systems.
Ambulance phone number:
- Public ambulance service number: 10177
- Cellphone ambulance contact number: 112
In 1998, two paramedics in Camps Bay founded this organization to relieve the strain on emergency response teams. Following their popularity, a second location opened on the City Bowl in Cape Town in 2003, and a third in Tableview in 2015.
Unlike other emergency response organisations, the Community Medics will assist you with your medical needs at no cost. Over fifty highly skilled volunteers, including physicians and paramedics, make up their team. Community Medics are available 24 hours, with an average response time of eight minutes.
Thanks to their partnerships, sponsors, and donations, they remain operational and provide a vital service that not all can afford. Hopefully, they can extend their range past Cape Town and assist at a national level one day.
Community Medics ambulance phone number: 087 230 0404
What is Namola?
Namola is a South African accident alert app that can be downloaded for free on your smartphone. The app can be used to report any type of accident or emergency, including emergency medical assistance. Namola is sponsored by Dial Direct has had over 200k users to date.
Private ambulance services
There are a few private emergency services to choose from, depending on your location and budget. Probably the most well-known is the ER 24 ambulance service, which is affiliated with Mediclinic and provides assistance to individuals all around South Africa. ER24 provides high-quality medical care from 59 sites and collaborates with both private and public institutions.
ER24 ambulance emergency contact number: 084 124.
List of private ambulance services in South Africa
- Ambulance De Vries Academy (Pty) Ltd: +27 879411 (Pretoria)
- Advanced Paramedic Assist: +27 860 112 911 (Pretoria)
- EAGLE TRAUMA RESCUE: +27 86 178 9911 (Rustenburg)
- Dynamic Emergency Medical Services Cc: +27 43 726 2225 (East London)
- Sozo Medical Rescue & Training: +27 23 614 2628 (Montagu)
- Protoscape: +27 15 291 3778 (Polokwani)
- Kwazulu Private Ambulance Service: +27 860 247 911 (Durban)
- Cape Medical Response: +27 21 782 0606 (Cape Town)
- Relay EMS: +27 86 106 1061 (Eastern Cape)
- Resqcare EMS: +27 84 508 9111 (Gauteng)
- Red Alert Ambulance Service: +27 43 703 4777 (East London)
- Atlantic Medical Response: +27 22 772 2377 (Langebaan)
- Axis Medical: +27 76 407 8362 (KwaZulu Natal)
Ambulance crisis in Gauteng
Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni have generally run their own ambulance services in an independent capacity. As of June 2020, however, the Gauteng Department of Health declared that the emergency services must run under provincial control. The results have been catastrophic and mid-pandemic; the timing could not be worse.
Due to vehicle insurance issues and medical supply dramas, many emergency vehicles sat idle as people died waiting for help. Maintenance became another issue, as 350 Gauteng ambulances were recorded out of service in need of repair in March 2021. By July, only 40 ambulances were operational in the whole of Gauteng. The new provincial ambulance system has resulted in more unnecessary fatalities.
The general consensus of South Africans is that if you need quick, quality medical assistance, you should use a private ambulance service. Unfortunately, if one does not have medical aid, this may not even be an option.
As the death toll rises in South Africa with the COVID 19 pandemic, one would assume the government would be paying closer attention to their medical response systems. And yet emergency vehicles remain out of operation due to paperwork problems, and the financially disadvantaged suffer the consequences.
Briefly.co.za recently reported about the ambulance crisis that is not the only issue involving medical care in Gauteng. We take a look at the local NGO's and how their reputations have come into dispute. In 2016, 144 patients died after being transferred to Life Esdimeni Hospital, a government-run medical facility under investigation.
The 144 patients all suffered from mental health issues, and the cause of their deaths was not due to natural causes, but instead neglect. Briefly.co.za gives you insights into the investigation behind this story, as well as other shocking local deaths with NGO's to blame.
Source: Briefly News