Daily Dispatch

Alarm bells as expecting mother dies after ambulance arrives late

- SIYA TSEWU HEALTH REPORTER siyat@dispatch.co.za

An Alicedale family wants the government to address the severe shortage of ambulances in the area after the death of a young mother and her unborn baby.

Yolandi Vroulik, 21, lost her child at the Settler’s Hospital in Grahamstow­n last week. The mother was transferre­d to a hospital in Port Elizabeth on Monday where she died after undergoing an emergency hysterecto­my (surgical removal of the uterus).

Vroulik’s family say she called for an ambulance from around 4am on August 21 but it only arrived after 7.30am and transporte­d her to Grahamstow­n – arriving at hospital at 9am.

This is because there are no ambulances in Alicedale and patients have to wait for those called from Grahamstow­n cases of emergency.

Vroulik’s brother-in-law Brenton Bruintjies said the family was still struggling to come to terms with the deaths.

“The family was excited about the arrival of the new baby and this is a huge loss. We do not have a car and we could not take Yolandi to hospital when she was in labour. She was in a lot of pain when we in called for the ambulance around 4am. We were told that the Grahamstow­n ambulance was in Port Elizabeth,” said a distraught Bruintjies.

He said they would bury the stillborn on Friday and Vroulik would be laid to rest on September 8 because they were waiting for post-mortem results.

Bruintjies claimed his sisterin-law and her unborn baby were the latest victims of the government’s failure to have ambulances servicing the area.

“There are ambulance drivers here but there are no ambulances. I wish the government could do something about the situation before more lives are lost otherwise there will be more deaths.

“This is a second child that has died in as many months,” Bruintjies said.

Contacted for comment, provincial health spokespers­on Lwandile Sicwetsha only said Vroulik was alive when the ambulance took her to hospital. He would not be drawn into responding to other questions.

Labour union Nehawu emergency medical services representa­tive Themba Bangani said they had been complainin­g about the shortage of ambulances to no avail.

“People are keen to work but there are no tools of trade. There are no ambulances and people are not doing what they are trained to do.

“When we complain about the lack of resources it seems as though we are fighting with the government,” he said.

In a statement, DA Makana councillor Theo Bruintjies said he would escalate the matter to the party’s MPL Jane Cowley.

“This is not the first tragedy resulting from either slow or no ambulance services. How many more lives must be lost before the government takes action?”

There are ambulance drivers here [in Alicedale] but there are no ambulances

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