Cape ambulance crew dodges armed robbers

17 November 2017 - 09:06
By Petru Saal
Image: iStock Gun.

A speedy response from bystanders helped prevent yet another attack on an ambulance crew in Mfuleni in Cape Town.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokesperson Robert Daniels said the attempted armed robbery took place as the ambulance entered the Mfuleni Day Hospital on Thursday afternoon.

“Fortunately the attackers fled when members of the public approached the ambulance and the crew were left uninjured and took refuge inside the medical facility until police were able to escort them out of the area‚” said Daniels.

In light of the latest attack‚ Mfuleni has been declared a “red zone”‚ meaning that ambulances will have to have police escorts to enter the area.

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EMS personnel have been attacked 33 times in the Cape metropole.

An ambulance was attacked two weeks ago while transporting a critically injured child to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. The attack delayed seven-year-old Faigon Wildschut’s transfer to hospital. He died in hospital later that day.

The city has already identified 16 areas as “red zones”. Provincial health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said that “safe zones” would be introduced inside “red zones”. EMS staff under attack will be able to seek refuge in these safe zones - manned by neighbourhood watch and community policing forum members.

Gunshot location technology deployed by the city has been used to determine whether an area is unsafe. Panic buttons have also been installed in ambulances.

“We will do all we can to prioritise the safety of the EMS staff‚” said Mbombo.

The provincial health department is awaiting a response from police minister Fikile Mbalula after Western Cape Premier Helen Zille issued a formal request to have ambulances escorted by the army.