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Speech by KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo on the occasion of the launch of the Festive Season Alpha Operation

11 December 2014

Good morning and thank you for gracing this event, it is greatly appreciated.

As the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, we wish to inform all our citizens and holiday makers of the plans that we have put in place to promptly respond to motor vehicle accidents and any other emergency situations that may arise during this festive period.

As we all know, December month marks the beginning of the Festive Season and this causes all major routes throughout KwaZulu Natal to experience a major influx and traffic congestions. That situation, inevitable, brings about increased accidents and trauma victims. Our Emergency Medical Rescue Services during this time are the ones we all depend upon to be there on the spot to provide assistance within that golden hour the accident has happened.

Today we are thus launching an amplified Alpha Operation whose objective is as follows:

• Provide rapid and effective response to all incidents within KZN and its immediate borders,
Improve access to EMRS services by allocating ambulances on the strategic points on major routes
• Increase EMRS visibility for public confidence.
Strengthening collaboration with road traffic inspectorate in our quest to reduce deaths on our roads.

As the Department of Health, we have made it our task to save as many lives as possible during this period and beyond.

This year we are exceptionally prepared for any carnage or disaster especially with our revolutionary Aero-medical Night Vision Goggles system for our Helicopter Emergency Services (HEMS).

These, colleagues, are Night Vision Goggles that are specially designed and generally used in military environments. They allow the user better visibility in night conditions as our crew on board the Emergency Helicopters are now able to see a person standing over 183 metres away on a moonless, cloudy night!

The two Helicopters and a Fixed Wing Aircraft are permanently on standby.

We also have Seven [7] 60 Sitter Disaster Busses that have stretches. We use these for the transportation of walking wounded as well as critically injured patients in a multi casualty incident. At the back of these busses we have installed hydraulic lifts for ease of loading critically injured patients.

We also have 15 Medical Rescue Response Units equipped with sophisticated extricating machinery for mangled wreckages, they are normally referred to as Jaws of Life.

All this is co-ordinated in our 12 Emergency Communications Centres, where we have 1 per district in the 11 districts and then a Provincial Operations Centre. All emergency calls are taken at the communications centres and the emergency vehicles dispatched to where required.

All of our EMS vehicles are now monitored by a vehicle monitoring and tracking system which allows for real time tracking. This assists with reducing response times as the nearest vehicle to an incident can be identified and dispatched accordingly.

All our healthcare institutions are also ready with qualified personnel and equipment to deal with all trauma cases.

We also have access to the facilities provided by the private hospital sector as they too have a responsibility of stabilising patients involved in accidents closer to their facilities, regardless of whether the patient is medically insured or not.

We thus promise a festive season that has very few casualties considering that our Emergency Medical Services will be working as a team with the Road Traffic Inspectorate; Fire Emergency Services as well as the South African Police Services.

We call on all our citizens to appreciate and recognize the sterling work done by our Emergency Medical Rescue Services in providing pre- hospital medical assistance to the multitudes of people that are caught up in trauma situations.

We all need to recognise that the holiday season to them is never a time of joy and that in most instances, the cases they attend to, leave them psychologically scared and traumatised as they have to deal with blood; broken limbs and corpses.

The appeal to behave well on the roads is also a call to save the Department of Health money as most victims of trauma end up in our hospitals, especially at the Intensive Care Unit and come out requiring lengthy term of care, long after the accident had happened.

As earlier indicated, the EMS Vehicles and personnel will be out there 24 hours a day, let them be protected. They will be positioned as follows:


N11 - Sunset Rest (Ladysmith)
R34 - Utrecht (Caltex Garage)
Botha’s Pass
N2/N3 - Spaghetti Junction
N2 - Gateway
N3 - Marianhill Toll Plaza
N2/M4 - Arbor Mall
N2 - Umgababa Shell Garage
N2 - Umvoti Toll
N2 - Ballito
Mandeni Toll
N2/R56 - Kokstad
R56/R612 - Ixopo
R 617 - Bulwer

N2 - Park Rynie
ETwetweni Plaza
Port Edward
N3 - New England Road
N3 - Mooi River
N3 - Tweedie off- Ramp
N3 - Camperdown
R33 – New Hanover
N2 - Mtubatuba / St Lucia
N2 - Hluhluwe
N2 - Mkhuze
N2 - Mbazwana / Sodwana
Blood River Road, R68 Babanango Road
R33 – Pomeroy SAPS
R33 – Nquthu/Vryheid Road Crossing
Mooi River/Muden Crossroads
N11 - Elandslaagte Turnoff
N3 - Engen one stop
N3 - Shell Ultra City
N2/R66 - Dokodweni
R34/R66 - Nkwaleni
R66/R68 - Melmoth / Babanango
N2 - Mthunzini Plaza
N2/R34 - Richards bay / John Ross
R34/R66 - Ulundi/Vryheid/Melmoth
R33/R34 - Vryheid / Melmoth
R66/R69 - Nongoma / Vryheid / Ulundi
R66/N2 - Pongola /Mkuze/ Nongoma
R33 - Paulpietersburg/Vryheid

Colleagues, as we part, we appeal to all those eligible to go and donate blood; you may never know as whether you yourself may need it.
I thank you


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