Province boosts it medical outreach

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The matches it will host for the 2010 World Cup and booming tourism are prompting a province to improve its emergency medical services (EMS).

Not only has Mpumalanga turned around its EMS capability, but it is also getting 102 new ambulances to make a fleet total of 226.

The health department now has 31 response vehicles, three control centres and 37 ambulance stations.

MEC William Lubisi said yesterday that the province's EMS used to be characterised by a lack of suitably qualified personnel, a lack of equipment and uniforms for staff, a depleted fleet and a lack of strategic leadership.

But after an indaba three years ago a turnaround programme was agreed on and is being implemented.

Lubisi said the plan identified a need to replace and upgrade the ageing fleet, employ more staff, procure technologically advanced equipment, upgrade and add new ambulance stations and improve the radio network system.

"With the implementation of the 2005 indaba resolutions, the EMS has done well and though there is room for improvement it is beginning to be a shining example of service excellence," Lubisi said.

"We have employed more than 300 personnel in the last two years.

"This brings the total staff complement in the unit to 800 and we have appointed a director for the unit to ensure stability at leadership level.

"We have also procured two advanced life support ambulances for the first time in the province and we now have an air ambulance (helicopter) that is able to reach any point of the province within 40 minutes, reducing response times."

Lubisi also said his department had installed an advanced radio network system.

This would enable maximum reach in all areas of the province.

He said the department had done away with operational borders and the nearest ambulance would have to respond to an incident regardless of location.

"Our province is also a "transit province", used by our neighbours from Mozambique and Swaziland, and we are a destination for local and international tourists.

"The new ambulances will assist us to deal with any eventuality."