WATCH: Red lights in the Cape ganglands – Grandma paramedic ready to help
This video is part of TimesLIVE's “On Shift” – a 10-part video series proudly brought to you by 1Life Insurance. Every Monday until the end of May, watch exclusive videos giving unusual insight into the lives and perspectives of people working in interesting professions in South Africa.
There is something that sets paramedics aside from regular people. When there is a volley of gunshots or a hijacking, most people would flee the scene. Paramedics move in the opposite direction – towards the action.
What makes a paramedic tick? According to Moira Louw, a paramedic working in Mitchells Plain, it is the ability to help when someone is in need.
Based in the ganglands of Cape Town, Moira’s job requires courage and caution. “Believe me,” she says, “I feel scared sometimes.”
Some areas of Cape Town have been demarcated “red zones” due to the number of attacks and hijackings involving paramedics in the area. Ambulances responding to calls in these areas enter only with a police escort.
It saddens Moira that paramedics have become targets for crime.
“We are here for the community,” she says. “I am a mother, I am a grandmother, I am a sister, I am aunt, and when I go out at night and I kiss my grandkids, it could be my last.”
As a paramedic, she sees death and trauma daily. Burnout is a serious issue among paramedics. Moira has learnt to “switch off” after the job to protect herself emotionally. Indeed, she says she never dreams of anything.
What gets her through a tough shift? “There is one thing I can tell you: we joke about everything,” she says. “That is the way we put our stress, our fears, into context.”
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