Role of paramedics

Kim Jurgens, Community Medics

Community Medics gets quite a number of calls, and people are not always sure what warrants a visit to the doctor and what should be regarded as a medical emergency where emergency services should be called.

Don’t be afraid to phone for any medical emergency, that is what paramedics do – attend to out of hospital medical emergencies, stabilise patients and then transport them to hospital for further treatment.

If you don’t feel it is necessary for the person to go to hospital, then it is probably unlikely that an emergency medical service is required.

The situation can wait until the doctor or clinic opens. If you have your own vehicle and can transport someone safely then you can do so.

What paramedics and emergency medical services are not is doctors doing house visits or wound-care nurses. Nursing care is specialised care, and is not in the scope of our training.

We are also not doctors. We are trained to deal with life-threatening emergencies, severe pain, recently inflicted injuries and serious medical conditions where stabilisation is needed on the way to hospital.

If you can apply first aid and use your car or catch a taxi to hospital, there is no need to contact an emergency medical service to assist you.

However, if you are concerned that the incident is more serious or needs immediate attention, please don’t hesitate to phone.

We will not be upset, we do love to help. Our only concern with calls that aren’t emergencies is that a call may come in for someone who needs urgent attention, and we can’t get there while we put a plaster onto your child’s stubbed toe or press a piece of gauze on the pin prick hole caused by a lap dog’s nip which was called in as a savage attack by a pack of dogs.

Although it can feel like hours while you await an emergency response, it is likely only a few minutes. However, ambulances are not sitting waiting at hospitals for calls to come in.

They are out on the road continually moving from patient to patient and taking patients to hospital.

When multiple calls come in, the paramedics are sent to the most urgent call first and the next urgent patient is only able to be attended to when that call is completed or another medic becomes available after their last call.

We don’t transport patients ourselves, but we do have service level agreements with private and government services to ensure that patients are transported when necessary.

When other services are busy and a patient needs urgent medical assistance, they will call on Community Medics to treat and stabilise the patient until they can arrive. The teamwork between emergency medical and rescue services in the greater Cape Town area is something to be proud of. As Community Medics, we are honoured to be part of this.

Contact us on 087 230 0404 for medical emergencies. We are funded by donations only, so if you are able to assist, visit www.communitymedics.org.za or follow us on Facebook