Volunteers bridge gap in emergency response time

Dr Kevin Lentin is a member of Community Medics and is looking to expand the service in the southern suburbs.

As we head into the festive season, a call is being put out to residents to join Community Medics: a volunteer organisation which gets emergency responders to accident scenes, first, to help.

Already well-established on the Atlantic Seaboard, in the city and Table View, Community Medics spokesperson Dr Kevin Lentin said the organisation wants to take this working model and extend its reach.

At the moment, the aim is to expand through the southern suburbs, up to Lakeside. Anything beyond, deeper into the far south, will be included in the next roll-out, he said.

Dr Lentin, a chiropractor, said he and fellow CM member Dustin Greef are heading up the call for volunteers.

“CM stemmed from a recognition that the resources for emergency services across the board were stretched. Without pointing fingers, we simply wanted to bridge that lapse in time between emergency and response: those moments which could make the crucial difference to outcome,” he said.

He said volunteers will need to do the one-day Department of Health course to qualify as what is termed an E-FAR (Emergency First Aid Responder) if they have no previous experience.

“What we are aiming to do is build up the numbers sufficiently in each area so that if an accident happens in Lakeside we have six to eight people who live in the area who may be on hand to respond immediately. This means we have hands on help which is sourced from the area: and it also means we have someone who can tell us if this is hectic and call for more help, or tell other respondents to stand down, that it is under control,” Dr Lentin said.

CM has a dispatch centre which is linked to Metro, and they also have close communication with a control centre in Constantia which liaises with 11 different neighbourhood watches.

The volunteers use the Zello app on their phones which enables all Android phones with an internet connection to function as walkie talkies, making communication simple and effective in emergency situations.

These calls are recorded and monitored in real time from first capture to finish, so every detail is logged from arrival to treatment up to where the patient is taken to hospital.

The Atlantic Seaboard group has just had an emergency response vehicle sponsored which is manned by staff Monday to Friday but is available to volunteers on weekends.

“At first, respondents will need to use their own cars, but that is why we want to have a number of people on call in each suburb, so that ideally they will respond to emergencies in their own area,” Dr Lentin said

Volunteers will un-
dergo an induction – which is training to get them up to speed on CM’s system – and this may involve one or a few shifts, depending on the person’s level of experience.

To find out more information on how you can become part of CM’s emergency response group, email: info@communitymedics.org.za or visit: www.communitymedics.org