EMS ambulance broken into

The Hout Bay Volunteer Emergency Medical Service (EMS) had to cancel two shifts last weekend after its ambulance was broken into in Hangberg.

Volunteers had been treating a young woman at the time of the break-in late on Friday night, October 12.

The window of the vehicle was smashed, a tailgate lock mechanism ruined and items, including a Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch radio, stolen.

Hout Bay EMS spokesman, Matthew Rosenberg, said it was the first time in recent years that the ambulance had been robbed or attacked while attending to patients.

“We are fortunate to have a good relationship with all the Hout Bay communities and are well respected by those we are there to treat. In this case, we are very grateful that the only damage was to the ambulance and that our crew was safe,” he said.

He said that despite the incident, Hout Bay EMS would continue to render services.

“Nothing has changed. We are still committed to helping all patients within the Hout Bay community, irrespective of their race, class or ability to pay. We will continue to be vigilant on shift and will work closely with the neighbourhood watches as well as the policing agencies to ensure the safety of all.”

Mr Rosenberg said volunteers always took precautions when responding to incidents.

“When we are attending to incidents, which may have included violence, we request assistance from the SAPS or the City’s policing agencies.

“We are fortunate to be supported by Community Crime Prevention (CCP), WatchCon as well as the neighbourhood watches who will often meet us on scene to guide us to the address and watch over us and our vehicles. We will be increasing our integration with these organisations to further protect our volunteers.”

CCP’s JJ de Villiers said it was already difficult for people to access medical assistance quickly, so incidents such as the break-in made the situation that much harder.

“These guys are volunteers who assist everywhere at all times of the day and really do incredible work. It’s going to be a sad day when these lifesavers have to wait in an emergency to go into an area within Hout Bay due to fear of vandalism and theft when seconds save lives in medical calls,” Mr De Villiers said.

* Hout Bay EMS relies entirely on community funding. Mr Rosenberg appealed to residents to sign up with the MySchool card programme and make the non-profit a beneficiary.