I have always appreciated and admired those who put their lives on the line to protect our communities – it takes a selfless and extremely level-headed person to do what these people do. They know what a genuinely bad day really looks like and yet they wake up every day and go back to work to do what they do best – save lives! These brave people are a gift to our town, a gift that so often goes unopened or unappreciated! With the often harrowing holiday season upon us, we thought it only right to extend our appreciation to the EMS providers in our town for their hard work and dedication to their community as we find out what life is like for a hero! In this third instalment we chat to Ballito Netcare 911..
How many calls on average do you answer in a week?
At our base, we answer approximately 100 calls per week.
What do you love about your job?
It is a privilege for my team and me to be able to touch people’s lives in a meaningful way and make a difference in the community through caring for the sick and injured. We are a highly-motivated team and have committed ourselves to living the Netcare Way, by embracing Netcare’s values of care, dignity, participation, truth and passion.
How do you prepare yourselves each time for what you are about to see?
As paramedics, we are mentally prepared for any emergency because of our training and the constant support from colleagues. It becomes a way of life and not just a job. We also do pre-scenario-based preparation so that when we are called for assistance, our response becomes very streamlined. Everyone knows their role and it’s like a puzzle fitting together perfectly in the event of any emergency.
What are the different levels of emergency?
We use lights and sirens when responding to all life-threatening emergencies, for example in the case of motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds, cardio-respiratory arrest or when someone experiences breathing difficulties.
What is the fundamental difference between Netcare 911 paramedics and a doctor or nurse?
We, as pre-hospital emergency medical specialists, provide the first line of care from the scene of an accident or incident to the medical facility, where the patient will be handed over to the receiving doctor and nursing staff in the emergency department. We all work as a team and the trauma doctor and nursing staff play a huge role in the outcome for the patient.
Do you ever become immune to seeing really bad accidents?
One can never be immune to suffering, especially when it involves children or critically injured persons. Although we come across these cases regularly and have to focus on doing our job, we always have compassion.
What is the essence of emergency medicine?
The essence is quick and sound assessment by paramedics, stabilisation at different levels of care ranging from basic life support to advanced life support, and rapid transportation by road or air to an appropriate medical facility.
What fundamental equipment do you have to have on every call?
In the case of a life-threatening emergency, we need a fully-equipped ambulance and rapid response vehicle. The ambulance needs to have advanced airway management equipment, portable oxygen, a cardiac monitor and a response jump bag.
What type of person do you have to be to have a career in this field?
To become a paramedic, an individual has to be compassionate, caring and committed. It may sound clichéd, but being a paramedic is not just a profession or a career – it is a calling.
Do you think your community is supportive and do you feel valued by them?
We do get a lot of support from Ballito residents. It is the, “Thank you”, “God bless you”, “You guys are amazing” and “You are so caring,” comments which make our job even more rewarding. However, we also welcome feedback that is not so favourable so that we can improve our service where necessary.
What is the best thing about your community?
We value their support greatly and it is wonderful when we receive thank-you letters from the public. It is also great when we meet with fully-recovered patients who we have treated. We have formed strong friendships within our community and are well supported by the auxiliary emergency services like the KwaDukuza Fire and Rescue, South African Police Service Umhlali, Umhlali K9 and the traffic department, all of which contribute to the successful treatment of patients