South African paramedics started carrying guns this week – to protect their own lives as they try to save others’ lives.
Early on Friday morning, two Cape Town paramedics were held up at gunpoint en route to the Melomed Hospital in Mitchells Plain with a code red patient in their ambulance – they stopped to attend to a man lying in the road, but it was just a ruse for him to draw his gun and hold them up.
Last week, the president of the SA Emergency Personnel Union (Saepu), Mpho Mpogeng, called on all the union’s 7000 members to arm themselves over the festive season following a spate of more than 30 attacks on members in the past six months.
Mpogeng said ever since the union had issued its call there had barely been any attacks on its members.
The union’s call, though, has been condemned by several quarters of society, including the national director of emergency medical services and disaster management at the health department, Raveen Naidoo, who asked the union to retract its call – which it has refused to do.
Naidoo said they were completely against the idea.
“All health establishments in the country are gun-free zones and EMS is no exception to that,” said Naidoo.