Gearing up for festive season

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo

Emergency services in Cape Town are expected to be stretched to the limit during the festive season, with local crews expecting another busy summer on the Atlantic Seaboard – particularly on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

At a media briefing at Somerset Hospital in Green Point, Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said EMS were stepping up capacity by increasing staff between 20 and 40 percent.

During December 2015 alone, theEmergencyCallCentre respondedto64091incidents – compared with the more than
10 200 calls which were attended to in December 2012.

Dr Mbombo said in 2015, there had been a total of 2441 transport-related incidents in the province, while pedestrian incidents were the second highest, at 725. There were 177 reported drowning and near drownings and “interpersonal violence” was the leading cause of injuries during the 2015/2016 festive season, with 14 656 cases reported.

“During times like this, it is important that our communities are aware of the kind of pressure emergency personnel are under,” said Dr Mbombo.

“We urge citizens and visitors to exercise sober habits in order to lessen seasonal emergency pressures in the province.

“There are simple measures every individual can apply such as refraining from drinking and driving or walking, exceeding the speed limit on our roads and irresponsible behaviour at our beaches.

“We have seen that interpersonal violence is the highest contributor of trauma in the province, as such we also implore people to refrain from abusing alcohol or substances which lead to unwarranted violence.”

Eric de Korte, communications liaison for the Community Medics on the Atlantic Seaboard, pleaded with residents to co-operate with officials. He said they were expecting another busy period on the Atlantic Seaboard after there had been an influx of tourists over the past few seasons.

Camps Bay Community Medics was initially established in 1998 before changing their name to Community Medics in 2003. They have a branch on the Atlantic Seaboard, City Bowl, northern suburbs and have recently set up a branch in the southern suburbs.

The Community Medics were established as a non-profit organisation to work with services such as the Department of Health and the NSRI.

“Camps Bay and Clifton are hotspots during the period. The most common call-outs we receive relate to drowning incidents and assaults. We see the message of don’t drink and drive but another important message is don’t drink and swim.”

He said the increase in the number of incidents can be related to alcohol consumption.

“Listen to the officials; they are the ones that are making sure you stay safe,” Craig Lambinon, spokesperson National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), said, adding that the incidents they expect during the festive period include sea-related emergencies, persons in difficulties in the sea at beaches, paddlers in difficulty, boaters in difficulty or requiring a tow, swimmers caught in rip currents, anglers swept off rocks, ship patient evacuations, hikers injured along coastal hiking trails.