Help­ing peo­ple un­der all cir­cum­stances

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/feature - Crys­ta­bel Chikayi Fea­ture

PARAMEDICS have to see fac­tious scenes. What oth­ers see in ac­tion movies, paramedics see in real life. Ac­ci­dent scenes, blood pool, blood flow­ing from open wounds, ashen heads, and bel­lies cut open with in­testines pour­ing out — to­tal hor­ror But the heart­beat of paramedics is in help­ing peo­ple — those in grave cir­cum­stances that could cost them their lives.

As first re­spon­dents to med­i­cal emer­gen­cies, paramedics are crit­i­cal in en­sur­ing pa­tients are sta­bilised and ac­cess med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties timely in cases of life threat­en­ing dis­eases and fa­tal­i­ties.

With­out hav­ing to think twice, they step on the ac­cel­er­a­tor, rush­ing to pick up pa­tients from ac­ci­dent scenes or their homes to get them to hos­pi­tals where they can get ad­vanced med­i­cal care.

Among these ev­ery­day he­roes who live to serve oth­ers are Emer­gency Med­i­cal Res­cue Am­bu­lance Ser­vice (EMRAS) paramedics.

EMRAS paramedics are loved by many peo­ple whom they have helped and among them are Mrs Ndakaitei Padzura (46) and her baby Emras, who have a strik­ing tes­ti­mony.

Due to preg­nancy-re­lated com­pli­ca­tions, Mrs Padzura had to be trans­ported from a re­mote clinic to a dis­trict hospi­tal where she even­tu­ally de­liv­ered safely and out of ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the paramedics that en­sured her safe trans­porta­tion, named her baby Emras.

“We could never have made it with­out EMRAS’ help. I’m grate­ful for what EMRAS did for me. I didn’t have enough money but they still trans­ported me to the clinic and later to the hospi­tal. Their re­sponse was swift af­ter we had called them. They gave me prelabour care in the am­bu­lance,” said Mrs Padzura.

EMRAS’ first emer­gency siren sounded on Oc­to­ber 1, 2002, when the pri­vate am­bu­lance ser­vice opened its doors to the pub­lic.

Mr Craig Turner, the di­rec­tor of EMRAS, which is an arm of Premier Ser­vice Med­i­cal In­vest­ment (PSMI) said his team is com­mit­ted and ded­i­cated to first class med­i­cal ser­vices.

“Ini­tially, the vi­sion of the am­bu­lance ser­vice was to es­tab­lish an af­ford­able ser­vice that could meet the needs of the ma­jor­ity. Now, EMRAS has been suc­cess­fully op­er­at­ing for 14 years in all cor­ners of the coun­try. Its suc­cess can only be at­trib­uted to the paramedics’ ded­i­ca­tion to sav­ing lives. That’s what has made EMRAS grow into one of the largest pri­vate am­bu­lance ser­vice providers in the coun­try,” said Mr Turner.

EMRAS has eight bases with each base hav­ing at least two am­bu­lances, a base com­man­der and paramedics. The bases are in Harare, Bu­l­awayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Mutare, Vic­to­ria Falls and Bin­dura.

Mr Turner said an­other base would be set up in Chiredzi by the end of this month.

He said EMRAS was es­tab­lished to com­pli­ment not com­pete with gov­ern­ment am­bu­lance ser­vices al­ready in ex­is­tence.

“The am­bu­lance ser­vice will con­tinue to be of as­sis­tance to the pub­lic de­spite the fi­nan­cial chal­lenges be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced cur­rently in Zim­babwe. We’ve weath­ered storms in the past and have come out of them strong,” said Mr Turner.

He said all that EMRAS has done marks the be­gin­ning of a ma­jor rev­o­lu­tion in am­bu­lance ser­vices.

EMRAS paramedics are trained to of­fer ba­sic and ad­vanced first aid de­pend­ing on the crit­i­cal­ity of the con­di­tion of the pa­tient on board.

Bu­l­awayo base com­man­der, Mr Paul Tafireyi said the am­bu­lance ser­vice is func­tional 24 hours a day.

“Our mis­sion is to of­fer ex­cel­lent pre-hospi­tal care and be pa­tient-cen­tric. I’d also like to take this op­por­tu­nity to urge our clients to give us feed­back, both good and bad. We ex­pect to hear from the pub­lic when­ever we fal­ter. We aim to do a bet­ter job ev­ery­day and this is enough tes­ti­mony that at least some­one some­where is ap­pre­ci­at­ing our ef­forts to save life,” said Mr Tafireyi.

He said their paramedics are trained to be able to han­dle the worst of sit­u­a­tions.

“The paramedics have to see fac­tious scenes. What oth­ers see in ac­tion movies, paramedics get to see it in real life. Ac­ci­dent scenes, blood pool, blood flow­ing from open wounds, ashen heads, and bel­lies cut open with in­testines pour­ing out — to­tal hor­ror.”

“We at­tended to a road traf­fic ac­ci­dent at Mbe­m­besi to­wards the end of last month. And when we ar­rived, eight peo­ple were al­ready dead, there were two sur­vivors. At times when an ac­ci­dent hap­pens, peo­ple don’t know who to call, they’ll try to call the rel­a­tives of the vic­tims and so forth, de­lay­ing the vic­tims from get­ting help. It’s ad­vis­able that ev­ery­one keep an am­bu­lance con­tact de­tail in their phone, whether they’re on med­i­cal aid or not,” said Mr Tafireyi.

He said EMRAS does not de­mand cash up front – the im­por­tant part is that a life gets saved.

“When we take a pa­tient to the hospi­tal and doc­tors re­quire pa­tients to un­dergo x-ray ex­am­i­na­tions – we avail our­selves and trans­port the pa­tient to imag­ing labs where they’re checked then we take them back to the hos­pi­tals,” said Mr Tafireyi.

EMRAS does not only trans­port pa­tients via road but also of­fer med­i­cal air trans­port in crit­i­cal sce­nar­ios.

“In cases where pa­tients will be very crit­i­cal and the nec­es­sary med­i­ca­tion is not avail­able in nearby hos­pi­tals, the pa­tient is trans­ported via air. The cru­cial first aid needed will be given by the paramedics on the plane. How­ever, our big­gest chal­lenge is that of ex­pen­sive spe­cialised equip­ment which we have to im­port. — @cchikayi

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