Two paramedics attending to a callout in an East London township escaped unharmed after an unknown man pulled a gun on them yesterday morning.
The incident, which happened at about 3am in Nompumelelo township in Beacon Bay, left the two paramedics – a man and woman – traumatised.
It was not the first incident in which paramedics were victims of a crime while on the job.
While paramedics in the Eastern Cape being targeted by criminals is not as prevalent as in other provinces, the provincial health department said yesterday it was concerned about the latest incident.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the two paramedics would meet with the provincial director of emergency to arrange for counselling.
“We cannot treat this as an isolated incident. This is concerning because it will affect service delivery. This means the crew is traumatised and if they were meant to be on duty again tonight, they cannot.
“It also means when going to areas like Nompumelelo we will have to first verify a case before going, and we must also request a police escort because of the danger our men and women are in. Our response will also depend on police availability,” he said.
This means people in serious need of medical help might not be reached on time.
Describing the incident, the spokesman said the two emergency medical services workers had been waiting for someone to accompany them to the house they had been called out to when a Toyoya Avanza pulled up in front of their ambulance.
A man then got out and approached the female paramedic and asked to use her pen. They lent the man a pen.
“The female paramedic said she felt unsafe and told her partner to go to the main road. They notified control, saying there was no escort and that they would go to the main road,” Kupelo said.
While on the main road, they noticed a man wearing a hoodie running towards them. “They thought it was the escort and waited for him to reach them. The man pulled a gun and pointed it at the female.
“He then began hitting the side window and windscreen with the gun, swearing at them, telling then to open,” Kupelo said.
The paramedics fled the scene unharmed and reported the matter to the Beacon Bay police.
Kupelo said they were worried because it was not the first time such an incident had happened.
He urged community members to ensure they did not allow thugs to prevent services from reaching them.
Police spokesman Captain Nkosikho Mzuku confirmed that a case of pointing a firearm had been opened at the Beacon Bay police station.
“We want to put an end to these crimes against the emergency services officials whilst they are performing their duties,” Mzuku said. — firstname.lastname@example.org