On average, Community Medics process around 300 calls a month and more than 500 calls during the summer tourist months.
Significantly, not one of the patients they attend to is billed for the service, as the public benefit organisation (PBO), which is run by volunteers, was established to offer fast support to those in the community, by those in the community.
The Community Medics organisation was started in Camps Bay in 1998 by a few friends who were medically qualified and in 2007, Camps Bay Community Medics was registered as a trust, becoming the foundation for what has been established today.
In 2013, Camps Bay Community Medics changed its name to Community Medics in preparation to expand its borders and take on additional divisions.
“The reason Community Medics was started has always been focused on being able to provide fast support to those in the community, by those in the community,” said Community Medics volunteer, Quinton Luck.
“By utilising members of the community, we are able to leverage reaction times and greatly reduce the duration taken to attend to someone in need.”
After going live on their dispatch platform in December 2013, the medics have already processed just over 10 000 calls.
They currently operate as a PBO but are working on attaining non-profit organisation (NPO) status, funded and operated solely on donations made by the public.
“The benefits of having an organisation like Community Medics operate in an area are tremendous. Our unique model enables us to provide ‘first world response times’, typically under eight minutes, to members of the public and also forms a direct communication path between your pre-existing area based groups such as the neighbourhood watch and medical providers,” said Mr Luck.
“Community Medics also promotes unity in communities as members are upskilled, becoming leaders and helpers.”
One of their many success stories unfolded after attending to a patient on a beach, who had dived into the water and hit a sandbank at Clifton, hurting his neck in the process.
Mr Luck said when Community Medics arrived, they found that the lifeguards on duty had done a good job of removing the patient from the water and maintained C-Spine (cervical spine stabilisation for neck injuries).
“Community Medics took over and began managing the patient. It was quickly clear that the patient had suffered a neck injury and had lost feeling in the lower part of his body,” Mr Luck explained.
Community Medics immediately activated aero-medical services to airlift the patient to hospital with as little movement as possible.
Once the helicopter arrived, the patient was packaged and loaded onto the helicopter for transport to hospital.
“It was a job well done and a fantastic example of how teamwork among services can end up saving lives. That patient ended up recovering from his injuries thanks to the efforts of Community Medics and the lifeguards on duty that day,” he said.
Community Medics work with members who are medically qualified, have First Aid training or have completed their Emergency First Aid Responder (EFAR) programme, a free one-day medical programme they are running for members of the public.
Community Medics covers the area west of the M5 and N7 between Ou Kaapse Weg and Melkbosstrand, but is currently working hard to expand this area. “Community Medics is receiving a lot of interest from communities wanting to ‘join rank’ and start up a division in their area.
“We at Community Medics would love to see this project spread out nationally and become a household name for free medical assistance,” Mr Luck said.
Anyone wanting to get involved with Community Medics, medical qualification or not, can email firstname.lastname@example.org, and for more information email email@example.com or call 087 231 0121.