One for All

Imagine if there were only one ambulance and two paramedics in your city and surrounding area. Imagine if the city management did nothing to improve the situation over 6 months - in fact it got worse. Imagine if the city had leftover cash to the tune of 20 million, and returned it to the government treasury instead of using it to improve services.

Well, if you live in a South African city by the name of Port Elizabeth, you don't have to imagine. It's a reality.

Fokus, an investigative programme on local TV, recently did a report-back on this situation, after investigating it 6 months ago. If anything, it's gotten worse.

A teenage guy's dad was very ill, and he called for the ambulance. 15 hours, 20 phonecalls and one dead father later, they finally arrived.

Involved in an accident anywhere within the nearly 500 square kilometres covered by the city management? Don't expect help anytime soon....! A few folk have died at the scene long before the ambulance has a chance to get there.

Unfortunately, the roads in that area are some of the highest-accident-risk roads in the country. The holiday season is upon us - many people will head down to the coast, where this city is situated, for the festive season. Alcohol mixed with tired drivers don't help. Nor do very unroadworthy vehicles - notoriously South Africa's mini-bus taxis.

One's almost afraid to take the chance and travel!

Fokus spoke to the mayor, who gave all his assurances that the situation will be sorted out before the roads busy up. So far, nothing's new. There are still only 2 qualified paramedics on call, and one ambulance available. The emergency number is still manned by unconcerned personnel who may or may not pass on your message to the emergency services.

And people continue to die before the ambulance can arrive.