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Depending on what you know, three things that make summer great could also prove fatal if you don’t know what to do in an emergency. An ER24 expert shares how to keep yourself – and your family – safe this summer.


As Zita Mathios, an ER24 advanced life support provider based at Johannesburg North, says, many people underestimate the dangers of a backyard pool, the sea or a mountain dam. “In the peak of summer we attend to a drowning-related call at least once a week,” she explains. “These emergencies are especially common among children under the age of four and often have poor outcomes.”

Keys to preventing a drowning

  • Protect your pool with a security gate, fence and impermeable cover.
  • Watch children at all times (it takes less than five minutes for a child to submerge and lose consciousness)
  • Enrol your child – and your childminder – for swimming lessons* as soon as possible.
  • Ensure you and your childminder have completed a certified CPR course
  • Exercise responsible behaviour at all times around the pool or at the beach. Drinking alcohol and playing silly games can lead to disaster if you slip or fall into the water.

* Even young children who have had swimming lessons must be supervised, since the fact that they have had the lessons may lead to less vigilance from caregivers/parents and a false sense of security in the child.

In the event of a drowning

  • Call for help (CrisisOnCall members can call the emergency number on their wrist band)
  • If it is safe for you to do so, remove the person from water to a dry, hard surface
  • Start CPR immediately and keep going until help arrives


Snakes and other reptiles are more active in warm weather as they attempt to regulate their body heat. In addition, blooming summer flowers attract a wide array of insects. As Mathios explains, stings and bites are usually harmless and result in local pain or swelling. However, some cases can be fatal. “Anaphylaxis is an extreme reaction to a simple sting/bite,” she says. This results in widespread swelling, hives, airway obstruction, distributive shock and potentially death. We get these call-outs often, especially at parks and outdoor events.”

Are bee stings more of a threat than snake bites during summer?

Keys to preventing snake bites and insect stings:

  • When faced with a snake in your path, do not approach it
  • When hiking, always wear ankle protection
  • When outside with a drink, always keep it covered
  • Be vigilant when sitting on – or grabbing objects – outdoors
  • Don’t provoke any hives or nests
  • In the event of a snake bite call an emergency number (CrisisOnCall members can call the emergency number on their wrist band)
  • Do not attempt to catch or handle the snake.
  • If possible, take note of its features and colour (a phone photograph to show paramedics would be perfect)
  • Don’t attempt to suck out the venom – it’s a Hollywood myth.
  • Keep yourself (or the victim) calm and ensure you (or the victim) keep as still as possible

In the event of an insect sting or bite:

  • Remove yourself (or the victim) from the vicinity of insect/s
  • Call for help (CrisisOnCall members can call the emergency number on their wrist band)
  • Scrape out the sting using a credit card or similar (pulling it out releases more toxins and takes more time)
  • Keep yourself (or the victim) calm, paying careful attention to the person’s skin condition


Mathios says heat exhaustion is an increase in body temp above 38? with symptoms of sweating, dizziness, nausea and a fast pulse. If heat exhaustion isn’t managed it can develop into heatstroke (or sunstroke) where your body temperature rises above 40? and your symptoms worsen.

“We often get calls for heat exhaustion, especially at fitness events,” Mathios adds. “Heat stroke doesn’t happen as often but is prevalent at shopping malls, where children or pets are locked in cars with no ventilation. The onset of heat stroke is relatively fast in this circumstance.” Mathios explains this is because children can’t regulate heat as well as adults and succumb to heat stroke much faster.

Keys to preventing heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Do not exert yourself outside in hot temperatures
  • Avoid the midday sun
  • Avoid excessive alcohol outside in hot temperature as this leads to dehydration
  • Wear sunscreen, as sunburn contributes to a rise in body temperature
  • Don’t leave children and pets in cars, even with a slightly open window

In the event of heat exhaustion:

  • Remove the person from heat (place them in the shade, place their feet in a pool, place a cool cloth on their forehead, or move them to an air-conditioned area)
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Ensure they drink plenty of water or a sports rehydration drink
  • Monitor for at least 30 minutes*

* It is important for a health professional to measure core temperature. Identification and urgent treatment of heatstroke are very important.

If they don’t improve:

  • Call for help (CrisisOnCall members can call the emergency number on their wrist band)
  • Keep encouraging them to drink water
  • Do not submerge them in cold water as this can trigger an adverse reaction. Instead, sponge their forehead, chest and underarms with cool water until help arrives

Article: Werner Vermaak – Communications Manager ER24

On the 11th November, Network 24 reported the following under the heading “Truck driver makes wise decision just before dying”: Truck driver, Johan Buys, told his wife that he would never put anyone’s life in danger and should he feel unwell, he would pull off the road. (Beeld also reported on 12 November under the heading “Dead behind the wheel of his truck.”)

This is precisely what he did on Thursday, 8 November 2018 when late at night he pulled off the N4 near Bronkhorstspruit. It is suspected that he died shortly thereafter from a massive heart attack at the side of the road. His son-in-law found him dead behind the steering wheel at about 10:00 the following morning. The truck lights were still on with the engine idling.

His wife, who had last spoken to him shortly after 22:00 on Thursday night, suspected something was wrong when his employer called early on Friday morning to say the tracking company had reported that the truck had been stationary since midnight with the engine still idling. This was approximately two kilometres from the Bronkhorstspruit off ramp. The police and tracking company could not at that moment go look for him so she asked her son-in-law, who lives in Kempton Park, to go see what was going on.

This tragic tale could have been prevented had Johan Buys been a member of CrisisOnCall: with Trip Monitoring, CrisisOnCall would have soon realised there is a problem as he would not have been answering his phone. (With Trip Monitoring, travelling members are called at agreed upon, regular intervals.) Also, with the panic button on his cell phone, Johan could have sent an emergency call to the Call Centre while he was pulling off the road. They would have called back immediately. If he was still able to speak, they would have instantly been aware of his medical condition. If he was not able to answer, emergency services would have immediately been dispatched. The panic button also gives the precise GPS co-ordinates. CrisisOnCall would thus have known exactly where he was stopped and could have dispatched the emergency services.

His identification bracelet with his unique reference number, would have provided all his relevant medical information to the medical response team via the Call Centre. CrisisOnCall would have also alerted the nearest hospital to which he was being taken, and supplied his medical history,etc.

CrisisOnCall would also have kept his wife abreast of developments.

It could thus have been so different had Johan been a member of CrisisOnCall. There have been several similar cases where members have fallen ill while travelling, but CrisisOnCall has been able to intervene by dispatching paramedics timeously.

Dare you tackle a long trip without CrisisOnCall?

What Exactly Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body’s ability to manufacture or use the hormone insulin is diminished. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas (a gland that lies behind the stomach), enables blood sugar to enter the body’s cells to be used as energy.

If the body’s insulin is not working effectively, glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood, damaging the body’s cells. And because the cells are the basic unit of life, diabetes ultimately damages the entire body, including the heart’s coronary arteries, leading to atherosclerosis, the disease process that causes heart disease and heart attacks.

Diabetes is also a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and limb amputations.

Prediabetes — also known as insulin resistance — is a condition in which a person’s fasting glucose level is higher than normal, which is 100, but lower than 126, which is diabetes. Any glucose number over 100 is cause for concern and must be addressed. When caught in time, pre-diabetes can be stopped and reversed before it develops into full-blown disease.

Common Symptoms

Both types of diabetes have some of the same telltale warning signs.

Hunger and fatigue. Your body converts the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy. But your cells need insulin to bring the glucose in.

If your body doesn't make enough or any insulin, or if your cells resist the insulin your body makes, the glucose can't get into them and you have no energy. This can make you more hungry and tired than usual.

Urinating more often and being thirstier. The average person usually has to urinate between four and seven times in 24 hours, but people with diabetes may go a lot more.

Why? Normally your body reabsorbs glucose as it passes through your kidneys. But when diabetes pushes your blood sugar up, your kidneys may not be able to bring it all back in. This causes the body to make more urine, and that takes fluids.

You'll have to go more often. You might urinate out more, too. Because you're urinating so much, you can get very thirsty. When you drink more, you'll also urinate more.

Dry mouth and itchy skin. Because your body is using fluids to make urine, there's less moisture for other things. You could get dehydrated, and your mouth may feel dry. Dry skin can make you itchy.

Blurred vision. Changing fluid levels in your body could make the lenses in your eyes swell up. They change shape and lose their ability to focus.

(Source: Web MD and Dr. C. Crandall)

September 2018

Photo: Jeanne-Marie Versluis (Rapport)

Johan Combrink became a celebrity overnight when the media got to hear of his heroic deed. He says that his domestic worked complained of stomach ache and his wife gave her a pain tablet and told her to go and lie down in her room.

Johan says that soon after the conversation with his wife, he heard a cry from her room and discovered that her water had broken. The domestic worker insisted that she was not pregnant, but after further examination he realized that the baby was on its way.

As a member of CrisisOnCall, he immediately sought their help even though the domestic worker isn’t a member. While the emergency services where on their way, he was successfully handling the labour. The emergency services arrived shortly after the birth and took the mother and baby to hospital.

Johan said that it was the most amazing experience and wanted to thank CrisisOnCall for all their help.

Members can add their domestic workers to their package for only R38 per month and a once of fee for the wristband. They would then have the following benefits:

  • Identification and personal information
  • Free ambulance services
  • Telephonic medical advice
  • Trauma counselling
  • If the domestic worker has been hurt on her way to work the call centre will inform her employee.
  • The call centre will be able to assist in the domestic workers home language.

Members that want to add their domestic worker to their profile, could send an email to: for a registration form.

As a doctor, a pilot & a biker, I realize the importance of having my personal information secure but readily available in an emergency.
I know my friends at CrisisOnCall will manage my Emergency when I am unable!
I never leave home without my wristband!

Dr. Danie van der Merwe (Head of Casualties at Midstream Mediclinic)

When the Lötter family asked for trip monitoring from Pretoria to Oudtshoorn on 2 July 2018, they had no idea what lay ahead for them.

They were involved in a serious accident when their car was blown off the road by a strong wind, near Hanover on the N1. From the hospital bed, Zach Lötter recalls how their belongings were spread over a large part of the road.

Paramedics were dispatched by CrisisOnCall trip monitoring when they realized that they couldn’t be contacted per cell phone. They were found just outside Hanover where their car had rolled. They were taken to the Central Karoo Hospital in De Aar, to stabilize them. After stabilisation, they had to be transferred to the closest private hospital because they have a medical aid.

Earlier that day their daughter was on a bus to Oudtshoorn for a national drum majorette competition. They wanted to be transferred to the Mediclinic Klein Karoo Hospital in Oudtshoorn to be close to their daughter. CrisisOnCall, being holistically in control of the transport of the patients, gave permission that they be transported to Oudtshoorn as requested. The family was also concerned about their belongings that was at the police station in Hanover.

Hanlie at CrisisOnCall that managed the matter holistically, arranged that the ambulance service (Quality Care) that would be transporting them would collect their belongings and take them with them to Oudtshoorn. Hanlie worked behind the scenes by making sure that the hospital in Oudtshoorn can handle the two patients that were on their way. Their next of kin were continually informed about the process and progress of the situation.

The Lötter family is thankful for the exceptional service and quick thinking. At one stage Mrs. Lötter become very emotional while speaking to Hanlie. Hanlie contacted the sister in the ward and arranged that Mrs. Lötter receives treatment to calm her down.

On 3 July we did a follow up and Mrs. Lötter was very thankful for the way CrisisOnCall handled the situation and for the excellent service from Quality Care Ambulance Services, that picked up their luggage Hanover Police Station. Zach confirmed on 5 July that they were still in hospital, but thankfully near their daughter.


We all are feeling the pinch of the economy and we all have to turn our coins over to survive. The services we provide at CrisisOnCall are extremely important, it can save a life. Therefore, CrisisOnCall do not want to lose a member due to the economic crisis. We are in the business to help and that is why CrisisOnCall wants to help lower your premium or even make it disappear. Wouldn’t it be great to have the services of CrisisOnCall but not having to pay for it!

How would this work?

For every paying member that you successfully refer, we will drop your premium by R20. If you have the basic membership of R 115, a referral of a successful new member, would decrease your premium to R 95. With a second referral, your premium will drop to R75, etc. After six paying referrals, your premium would be zero. If you have included roadside assistance, and your premium is R 170 per month, the same applies for this. After one successful referral your premium drops to R150, etc.

Are there any conditions?

The only condition is that the person registers through your membership or your wristband number, so that CrisisOnCall knows who referred the new member. If any of CrisisOnCall sales people need to register the new member then one forfeits the R20 because this would then be the sales person’s commission.


South Africans have in recent months experienced many traffic delays, disruptions and at times total road closures brought about by protests, riots and incidents of public violence.

These protests were related to service delivery, education issues, politics and several social issues.

It has been reported in the insurance industry that up to 80 percent of protests which have taken place in South Africa over the last decade were unfortunately associated with violence and many innocent bystanders sustained damages to their properties, cars and personal belongings.

On the Arrive Alive website, we share information on “Roadside Emergencies and the Sudden Unforeseen Stop” with some important insights on what to do in an emergency. But how should we drive and how can we adjust our driving in areas of protest and public violence?

Public violence, protests, road closures and preparedness for emergencies:

Preparedness for Civil Unrest in Areas of Protests

  • Safety always starts with planning - The best way not to become part of any unrest situation is to not be there in the first place.
  • If you are aware of trouble in an area and it is not essential to travel, rather delay your journey or find alternate routes.
  • Monitor media and social media and listen to the local radio station for radio reports and traffic updates.
  • If in doubt about the safety of an area, phone a police station in the area for advice.
  • On the national tolled roads, the toll concessionaires have call centres that are operational 24/7, offering regular updates on social media platforms such as Twitter.
  • Limit your trips at night or at least take someone along with you. Many of the recent incidents of public violence on our freeways have taken place under the cover of darkness.
  • During daytime, there is increased visibility allowing more time and space to respond to emergencies.
  • Be extra cautious when accompanied by people with special needs such as children, the elderly or a passenger who is pregnant.
  • Have enough water in the vehicle to remain hydrated during travel delays.
  • Become familiar with your route before you start the trip.
  • Get a map of the route and study it for alternative routes and roads
  • GPS devices or apps on smartphones may also provide invaluable guidance on routes for detours.

Vehicle Safety in areas of Protest and Civil Unrest

  • Ensure that your vehicle is in a good condition when you plan to go on a journey.
  • Ensure that the fuel tank of your vehicle always has sufficient fuel.
  • Always lock your vehicle's doors and keep the windows closed.
  • Do not be seen using your cellular phone – Rather use a hands-free kit.
  • Do not leave valuables such as handbags and briefcases within clear sight of anyone approaching your vehicle.

Defensive and Non-Provocative Driving in Areas of Protests/ Riots

  • It’s important that anyone driving in an area that may be affected by unrest understands that the SAPS will most probably have blocked off a road to prevent entry.
  • Trust and obey the instructions from police and traffic officials. Don’t put yourself in any danger by disobeying them.
  • If traffic has become congested – do not drive in the emergency lane thereby endangering the lives of those who may need urgent medical attention.
  • Check for possible escape routes you can use‚ or for a police presence that you can approach for assistance.
  • Stay in your car for as long as possible.
  • Unbuckle your seatbelt‚ and those of any passengers‚ to be prepared to exit your car quickly when needed.
  • Keep your car moving as far as you can‚ whilst checking for possible escape routes.
  • If you find yourself heading into the path of a crowd, and it is possible - turn down the nearest side road, reverse or turn around and drive away calmly.
  • Remember that conflict can only continue to exist with participation – the protest may have nothing to do with you - do NOT participate.
  • Be vigilant always and ensure that protesters know you pose no threat and are merely trying to pass through.
  • Drive defensively with the required patience for the situation.
  • Pay attention to the road surface and where you drive - You do not want to get stranded with a tyre puncture or from a collision into another vehicle.
  • Avoid hitting any protestors with your vehicle as this may turn the mob against you.
  • Do not taunt the protestors with provocative gestures such as shouting‚ gesticulating or hooting at them.
  • Remain as calm as possible to ensure you are aware of what is going on around you.
  • Seek assistance or safety from the police as quickly as you can. If you do not see the police‚ call them.

Safety and Property/ Valuables

  • Always remember that your life is irreplaceable and worth more than any earthly possession.
  • If you are stuck and the situation seems to be turning‚ leave your car and get out of the area on foot.
  • Do not try to carry baggage away from your vehicle - Your life is more valuable than your car or any possessions inside.
  • Do not resist and become confrontational.
  • Once you are personally safe (with or without your vehicle) call family or friends to let them know where you are‚ and what is happening. (If you are a CrisisOnCall member, they will keep in touch with you and keep your next of kin up to date)

Leaving the Scene of Civil Unrest

  • Do not drop your vigilance once you have left the scene of unrest.
  • Leave the scene swiftly but cautiously.
  • Buckle up and don't get distracted!
  • Traffic may remain congested in what is often deemed a "traffic tsunami" after road closures.
  • Be cautious of agitated and impatient road users taking chances once the road has cleared.
  • Drive defensively and remain alert to traffic, road and weather conditions.

Financial Damages and Insurance – Sasria Cover

  • Even with the best behaviour, it is possible that you may bear the brunt of civil unrest and suffer damage to your vehicle or other property.
  • Civil unrest and public violence heighten the need for special risk insurance cover.
  • Sasria (the South African Special Risks Insurance Association) was established and registered in terms of Section 21 of the Companies Act in 1979, in response to the political unrest of 1976.
  • Sasria is the only insurer in South Africa that provides cover for riots, strikes, terrorism, civil commotion and public disorder to corporate, commercial and individual policyholders.
  • It is important for those with short-term insurance to verify with their brokers and insurers that Sasria cover is included in their underlying policy.
  • Consult with your insurer and request confirmation that insurance provisions are correctly structured to avoid financial damages.
  • Sasria cover is applicable to personal property such as vehicles, homes and household contents, as well as commercial and government property.

CrisisOnCall often finds members struggling to determine when road assistance is involved and when short-term insurance is involved. Then there is also confusion with trip monitoring versus roadside assistance. Here are the three definitions:

1. Trip monitoring
The person travelling is contacted at regular intervals to determine whether the trip is proceeding well and actions are taken if necessary. This service is automatically part of the Alpha Plan.

2. Roadside Assistance
Roadside Assistance is an optional extra service available at an additional amount per month, per vehicle. With the Alpha Plan, roadside assistance will only be arranged if necessary, and the member will then be held liable for the costs. If the member has Roadside Assistance with his short-term insurance, the member must indicate this to the call centre so that they can transfer the member to the appropriate short-term insurance.

When a member has Roadside Assistance at CrisisOnCall, it only covers the nominated vehicle for roadside assistance when the vehicle is failing due to mechanical or electronic reasons.

Roadside Assistance is linked to the nominated vehicle, regardless of who drives it. Always update your information on time when a vehicle is replaced.

3. Short-term insurance
If the vehicle was in a collision, it is not Roadside Assistance. The towing service is then covered by short-term insurance. CrisisOnCall’s Roadside Assistance thus exclude this service.

4. Potholes
When a tire is damaged by a pothole, it is covered under short-term insurance as there may also be structural damage to the vehicle. If the tire is only exchanged, it can cause a serious collision because structural damage may not always be visible. It is therefore for the member and his family's safety that short-term insurance should be involved.

What to do when my vehicle is burning? Here are a few tips:

  • Stay as calm as humanly possible. The most dangerous thing to do is to panic. This will lose valuable seconds and cause you to make wrong decisions.
  • If the vehicle is moving, pull over to the side of the road immediately. Fire is dependent on oxygen and forward momentum will force air into the car fuelling the fire.
  • By pulling over you enable everyone to move to safety.
  • Switch the engine off to cut the electrical current and flow of fuel.
  • Shift the gear lever into park and apply the emergency brake. You don’t want the vehicle to move after stopping.
  • Ensure that everyone leaves the vehicle and don’t waste time by looking for personal items.
  • The head rests of the front two seats have metal pins that can be used to break the windows if necessary.
  • Move to about 30 meters from the vehicle keeping the traffic in mind. Keep everyone together away from passing traffic.
  • Keep curious onlookers away from the vehicle.
  • Don’t return to the burning vehicle.
  • Contact the emergency services from a safe distance.
  • Alert oncoming traffic.
  • Don’t lift the bonnet if you suspect fire underneath. Oxygen can fuel the fire and lead to injury.
  • Be careful of trying to extinguish the fire yourself: there is a danger of an explosion and being affected by toxic gases.
  • An emergency is no time to read the instructions on a fire extinguisher! Vehicles should have an easy to operate fire extinguisher available.
  • If the fire is small and inside the vehicle, use the extinguisher. If there is a small amount of smoke coming from under the bonnet, release the bonnet catch but do not lift the bonnet. Spray through the gap with the fire extinguisher from a safe distance , aiming at the base of the fire. If it is a big fire or near the petrol tank, rather move to safety.
  • Inspect the fire extinguisher in your car every six months to ensure that it is in proper working order.

Preventive measures:

Vehicle maintenance and inspection is crucial to preventing vehicle fires. The following suggestions might prevent vehicle fires:

  • Have your vehicles inspected at least annually by a trained, professional technician.
  • Check for any malfunctioning parts and hanging electrical wirings. Do not leave them hanging.
  • Include a check of the fuel system in your regular maintenance schedule. Electrical and fuel system problems are the major causes of car fires.
  • Watch for fluid leaks under vehicles, cracked or blistered hoses, or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or has cracked insulation.
  • Have vehicles inspected and repaired as soon as possible if exhaust or emission control problems are suspected.
  • An early indication of a problem is a fuse that blows more than once. The source of the triggered fuse could be either a faulty component or a wiring problem.
  • Check for oil leaks and always use a funnel when adding oil. Oil spilled on a hot exhaust manifold can cause a fire.
  • If a filling station attendant adds oil, double check that the cap is on securely. This sounds obvious, but better to check than end up with oil all over your engine compartment at best, or an engine fire at worst.
  • Clean the vehicle regularly - Do not allow your trash to settle in the vehicle.
  • Avoid throwing cigarette butts anywhere
  • When driving - Be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. A louder than usual exhaust tone, smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust could mean problems or damage to the high-temperature exhaust and emission control system on the vehicle.
  • Observe your gauge frequently - Check if the temperature is rising.

Source: CrisisOnCall and Arrive Alive

Picture: The Star

Traditionally more fires occur in the winter than summer. CrisisOnCall hereby offers a few tips on preventing house fires:

  • Don’t overload electrical plugs or lay electrical cables under carpets.
  • You must never drape clothes or towels over heaters for drying.
  • If you have a fire place in the home, ensure the fire is out before going to bed.
  • Use electric blankets with care. Make sure they are in good working order and switch off when getting into bed.
  • Inspect gas heaters regularly for gas leaks.
  • Never place a gas bottle on a hot surface such as a stove top.
  • Never heat cooking oil on a stove top without supervision. Should the oil in a frying pan ignite, smother it with a lid or other flat object.
  • Plan and practice escape routes – there should be two ways to get out of every bedroom and the house.
  • Ensure that everyone in the house knows where the assembly point is that they must head for. This way one can quickly determine whether everyone has vacated the house.
  • Keep the fire services emergency number near the telephone and also memorise it.
  • When there is smoke, crawl on the floor as that is where the most oxygen can be found.
  • Move along a wall in one direction until you find a doorway.
  • Never open a door if it is hot to the touch.
  • Wake everyone in the house if there is a fire.
  • If your clothes catch alight, fall down flat and roll over and over.
  • Don’t go back into the house for pets or personal belongings: your life is more valuable.
  • Don’t try and extinguish the blaze yourself unless it is safe to do so.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in strategic places in the home and don’t forget the garage. Ensure the extinguishers are in working order by inspecting them at least every six months.
  • Consider acquiring a carbon monoxide fire alarm. It is a safe, effective and unobtrusive way in which to protect homes or businesses against fire as it is an early warning system against fire.

(Sources: CrisisOnCall, ADT)

Let me tell you what happened to me on Thursday. I was en route from Pretoria to Johannesburg and stopped briefly in Silverton. When I wanted to resume my trip, my car battery was dead. My car is only 30 months old and who would have thought that the battery would give up the ghost so soon? Fortunately I could call CrisisOnCall and they very quickly sent a service provider to assist me. An hour later and R1,700 poorer, I was underway with a new battery.

How much more time would I have lost had it happened on the freeway? Who do you call in such an emergency? Why did’t I notice that the battery was busy giving notice? Many readers have probably asked these questions and been through a similar expereince. My question is: could I have avoided the unnecessary drama?

It is a known fact that most batteries start misbehaving when the weather turns cold. The nearer to winter, the more batteries decide enough is enough! Here are a few tips to follow to ensure that your battery doesn’t leave you in the lurch:

  • When leaving your car, make sure that the lights and windscreen wipers are switched off.
  • Ensure that your radio and immobiliser aren’t draining your battery when the vehicle is switched off.
  • Check the battery fluid level regularly.
  • Ensure that only distilled water is used.
  • Keep the battery terminals clean and ensure the clamps are tight.
  • Have your battery checked regularly, especially as winter approaches. Most battery suppliers will do this for free.
  • If your car is struggling to start, have the battery checked immediately.
  • Should some features in more luxurious models cease to function, have the battery checked immediately.
  • Battery life varies and there are many external factors influencing it so listen for early warning signs that a battery is coming to the end of it’s life cycle.
  • It pays to shop around for prices before your battery finally packs up. This can save you money and spare you much frustration.
  • Ensure that you have some form of roadside assistance cover. (Note that Roadside Assistance has nothing to do with collisions – its all about electronic and mechanical failure that can leave you stranded.)
  • Don’t leave a vehicle unused for long periods of time without charging the battery. Disconnecting the battery during such periods of unuse can also help.

CrisisOnCall offers much more than just roadside assistance. Should you already have roadside assistance cover for your vehicle, CrisisOnCall can still assist you in contacting your insurer. The arranging of roadside assistance is but one of the thirteen standard benefits of membership which also include the Crisisline (911 Call Centre), for indentification, provision of lifesaving information and Trip Monitoring. All this and more for only R 115 per family per month.

Antoinette Jacobs writes on the CrisisOncall Facebook page: “Deon gave us wonderful support after our car broke down and while we waited for Integrisure’s tow-in service. People, you just don’t know when you are going to need CrisisOnCall. That is peace of mind.

Remember, even though it only happens to a neighbour, you are also someone’s neighbour!

More than 15 years ago CrisisOnCall caused the country to sit up and take note when it launched a unique identification system that could speak for people when they couldn’t. This system, which was developed in conjunction with paramedics and other medical personnel, has since saved many people’s lives.

Hearing impaired people struggle to get help in an emergency precisely because they cannot hear or speak. Therefore a cellphone is in the most cases simply a communication device to send messages.

Crime is rampant and victims, as a result of their circmstances, aren’t always able to phone for speedy assistance. When a criminal enters your home for example, and you have to hide away, talking on your phone is a no-no. In many cases people hide in a room or even a wardrobe, but help must still be summonsed without alerting the criminal. The responders to the call, must receive enough detail as quickly as possible for effective response.

Victims tend to send a WhatsApp or sms to family or friends but this is time consuming and these people don’t always know what to do. They in turn contact the police but don't have enough information about the nature of the emergency further adding to the time delay. The best solution is to be able to speak to a professional person who can respond professionally.

CrisisOnCall unveiled a new service on 14 May 2018 which on the one hand allows hearing impaired people to communicate with the Call Center without physically (dialling a number) speaking, and on the other hand, people can use the same system to communicate with the Call Center in an emergency. The system operates with a “please call me” to the Call Center allowing for reciprocal communication between the person in need and the Call Center agent. During this communication there can be a free flow of information in order to assist the person most effectively.

This expanded system is the first of it’s kind in the country and is offered free of charge to members alongside the other services which CrisisOnCall already offers.

The Call Center is also available to assist even when it is not an emergency involving crime. Any problem can be reported, be it a vehicle breakdown, damage in the home, trip monitoring, calling an ambulance (a free service) or legaladvice, help with all is available 24/7.

How does the system work?

The member types the following code on the cellphone keyboard *130*3272*36# whereafter a menu with the following options will appear:

  • EMS – Medical emergency.
  • Crisis Line – Help during a crisis.
  • Trip Monitoring – Request for Trip Monitoring.
  • Roadside Assistance – Help with a vehicle breakdown, run out of fuel or flat battery.
  • Home Emergency Assistance – Household emergency like a burst water pipe.
  • Legal Assistance – Request for legal advice.

There are further questions such as requesting the members bracelet number, whether there is anyone else nearby who can speak, description of the problem and the address where the incident is taking place.

The Call Center will send an sms to the member acknowledging receipt with a reference number. Thereafter the Call Center can communicate with the member via sms. (The Call Center agent supplies the member with an sms number for further communication)

This system can also be used in a crisis situation where the member cannot speak.

I was despatched to the scene of a freak accident in the East of Pretoria where I found a young, female, professional equestrian. She was busy training when her horse threw her off, whereafter she had neurological seizures with symptoms of severe head injuries. The patient was very confused and not aware of her surroundings. I had to manage her airway by means of intubation. As a result of the head injury we were not able to get any information from the patient: she could not speak for herself at the scene of the accident. In a case such as this, I, as the paramedic have no idea whether the patient is on a medical aid or not. The nearest State Hospital may not have the right Neurosurgeon which the patient’s condition might require. I’m not aware of any allergies nor do I know how to contact her next of kin. I don’t know anything about my patient except that she is seriously injured and all I can do is treat her as best I can. Maybe she had Medical Aid? What aggravated the situation was that the scene of the accident was at the end of a long dirt road and a medical air-evacuation would be ideal. But there was no proof of a Medical Aid. If she was wearing a CrisisOnCall bracelet, it would have improved her situation and made my responsibility as a paramedic easier. I myself have been a member of CrisisOnCall for two years. I believe in their services which have many times made a difference in the lives of patients I had been treating.

Time is life and time saves lives.

W Le Roux; Paramedic


On the 26th March 2017, Arrive Alive tweeted: “Notify your loved ones the moment you arrive alive.”

The Easter school holiday with the Easter Weekend is around the corner, unfortunately a time when many motor vehicle collisions occur. In many cases people are seriously injured and paramedics have to scramble around to obtain lifesaving information timeously. CrisisOnCall’s identification bracelet can help with providing quick lifesaving information while the Trip Monitoring Service can contribute to a safe journey.

How does the Trip Monitoring Service work?

Travelling members and/or their family are contacted at regular intervals to determine whether the trip is progressing well. Should the travelling person not respond to the Call Centre’s call, both internal and external actions are put into place to find the traveller. A recent addition to this service is that the traveller can nominate a next of kin who will be notified by CrisisOnCall when the trip has been safely concluded. This service is also invaluable for school tours where the teacher in charge is contacted and the parents of the travelling child are notified that the bus has arrived safely at it’s destination.

Here follow two thank you letters from happy members:

Convenient Trip Monitoring

On the 22nd of October 2017 I sent a “Please call me” message for Trip Monitoring. A very friendly and helpful lady called me back to get all the relevant information. I asked to be contacted every hour until we arrived safely at my daughter’s home in Ermelo. During our trip of four hours, a very friendly Deon Carstens called every hour to enquire whether we were still safe and travelling well. We returned to Rustenburg on the 27th October and once again experienced such friendly service.

I am a new member and I just want to thank you very much for the friendly and helpful service we received. It is reassuring to know that there still are people and organisations that provide such friendly service. With such friendly and helpful people I’ll want to stay a member of CrisisOnCall for a long time.

Once again, thank you for your friendly and helpful service. My wife Joy and I appreciate it very much - Nico Pietersen.

Detour Saves Time with Trip Monitoring.

We would like to express our gratitude to CrisisOnCall who so kindly supported us with Trip Monitoring from Rustenburg to Durban and back. We were two women with two small children in the car. Upon our return, the N3 was closed just before Mooi River as a result of an accident. Deon informed us of that closure and helped us find an alternative route which certainly saved us a lot of time.

We were called every hour on the dot. We regularly had to confirm the road number with Deon to ensure that we were still on the correct detour. At one point we re-joined the N3 and during the last hourly call with Deon, I informed him that we were only twenty minutes from home. He recommended that he call us in half an hour to ensure that we did indeed get home safely! Fantastic service and great telephonic company which made the trip seem shorter.

Thank you very much CrisisOnCall. - Daleen Swart

 Photo ER24

Medical staff are emphasising how important information is for decision making.

Dr Jaco van Niekerk, a trauma specialist from the Med24 Trauma Unit, stated quite clearly that they have to sometimes rely on their own experience to determine a patient’s background. This can be problematic as time is of the essence. He expressed his appreciation to CrisisOnCall for the patients who arrive in the trauma unit wearing the CrisisOnCall identification wrist bands, allowing for the immediate access to personal medical information.

Natascha Kolemann, Advanced Life Support Paramedic writes on her Facebook page: “If you’re allergic to something serious (not pollen or milk) you should get a medical bracelet - don’t play Russian Roulette with your life.” She writes further that medical aid information is of cardinal importance. An App on a cell phone can only work if the patient is conscious and if the cell phone is at hand. She writes: “An App is only useful if you’re awake. If you’re unconscious, we don’t know your pin number or any other information on your phone.” She further confirmed: “If you cannot tell us you are on a medical aid and we cannot find a medical aid membership number, you will end up in a state hospital.”

Paramedics are in agreement that you don’t just become unconscious in vehicle accidents. It can happen anywhere: in a shopping centre; at home; on the side of the road and even at church. Even while jogging, cycling or just walking, the unexpected can happen.

Many people think that fate will only strike their neighbour, but you are also someone’s neighbour!

A problem can also arise when a dependent of a medical aid member is admitted to hospital and there is no access to the main member’s details.

What information does CrisisOnCall have on its members and their families?

• Medical Aid information (if applicable)

• ID numbers and full names of all members of the family.

• Allergies

• Medication

• Medical conditions such as diabetes.

• Major surgeries

• Next of kin

• Pacemakers

• Neighbours, minister, nearest police station etc.

This information is managed and protected by the requirements of the POPI Act.

We have written a lot about the robbing of patients and there are plenty of examples in the media. Enough said!

Do these all seem to be scare tactics? It is a pity should you think so because the reality confirms that these are challenges confronting paramedics on a daily basis. They are excellently trained but do not have X-ray eyes and are not detectives who can search for information. They want to make informed decisions to save your life and need critical information.

CrisisOnCall fills the gap between an incident and the medical aid. Should you not have a medical aid, CrisisOnCall will still cover your ambulance costs (both by road and air) – everything until the hospital doors. We also make use of the nearest accredited private ambulance service which means that help will arrive quickly. TIME = LIFE!

Finally, just a word about the trip monitoring which is part of the membership package. When embarking on a long road trip, you can arrange with the call centre to contact you at regular intervals to check on your progress. Should you not be contactable, internal and external procedures kick in automatically. You can also arrange for a nominated person to be informed via sms that you have reached your destination safely. This benefit is important where school children go on school outings - CrisisOnCall can monitor the bus’ progress and inform you when your child has arrived safely at their destination. You can also make use of this service when undertaking a short trip in dangerous times and areas, or even when travelling late at night from work to home.

The Mercury News reported the following on 7 February 2018:

“At approximately 10:50 Monday morning Netcare 911 responded to a call of a motor vehicle collision on the N3, Pietermaritzburg bound, just before Peacevale,” said Herbst.

He said paramedics found a man in his 30s lying next to his vehicle. He was already dead and it’s believed he lost control of his car in heavy mist and rain.

The man’s vehicle was found by passers-by who alerted the emergency services.

“On closer inspection it appears the man’s personal belongings, including all the contents of the vehicle, had been rummaged through and valuable items stolen.”

Herbst said members of the SAPS Accident Investigation unit and Police Search and Rescue were on scene and would be investigating.

The trip monitoring service would also have been of tremendous value.

Superintendent Alta Fourie, representative of the Tshwane Metro Police said the following in the Pretoria News: "... the theft of accident victims’ personal belongings is an unfortunate reality." Various other media reports also highlight the problem. ”Accident victims robbed” - SABC - 20 March 2016: “Minutes after the bakkie collision in Johannesburg, even before the paramedics arrived on the scene, the helpless victims were robbed by bystanders.”

On Saturday 27 January 2018, at about 13:30 there was a chain reaction collision on the N2 near Chesterville. Sixteen people were injured in the collision with injuries ranging from less serious to very serious. Garreth Jamieson of the Rescue Care ambulance service told how community members started stripping vehicles involved in the collision, stealing whatever they could. And that while the paramedics were tending to the patients.

All the patients had to be transported to various hospitals in Durban with the biggest problem being a lack of personal and medical information. This has often been the case before, but appears to be an increasing tendency lately.

Questions that paramedics need answers to:

Is the patient allergic to any medication?

What medical condition does the patient have? (Eg: Is the patient diabetic?)

Has the patient recently had any serious operations?

Does he/she have Medical Aid? (Private Hospital vs State Hospital)

Dr Jaco van Niekerk, one of the Med 24 trauma specialists says the following: “Information is incredibly important when we see a patient. It determines what you can expect and what you may give the patient. Has he already had surgeries and what is her medical history? (eg diabetes) It regularly happens that a trauma patient is brought in by paramedics from the ambulance service and you don’t know anything about the patient’s background. The patient often cannot speak and you have no idea where to start. You start treating the patient systematically but you cannot predict the outcome at that stage.

It often happens that people arrive here two or three days after they were involved in an accident. They were taken to the nearest, sometimes small, State Hospital and it only emerged some days later that they had adequate Medical Cover for a top private hospital.

CrisisOnCall has developed a system that provides paramedics with complete patient information; it can alert the nearest trauma centre about the personal and medical information of the patient who is en route as well as alerting the next of kin. It all begins with an ordinary wrist band carrying a unique ID number on the back linking the CrisisOnCall call centre with the patient’s detailed information. (The information is made available in compliance with the POPI legislation)

Along with the ID system, there are also standard services such as Trip Monitoring whereby a member is monitored while on a journey. At the conclusion of the journey, a nominated next of kin is also informed that the member has arrived at his/her destination safely.

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We hear of depression and suicide almost on a daily basis, but do we really know what it means and how serious it is? I stand corrected, but I say that until you’ve been there, you don’t really know. On Wednesday evenings between 20:00 and 21:00, CrisisOnCall sponsors a programme that gets broadcast on Groot FM in the Pretoria area on 90.5 FM. It is also available on DStv Channel 820. Groot FM also has an app to download so that you can listen to the radio station.

On Wednesday 24 January and 31 January, Dr Rodney Seale, specialist child psychologist, Henning Jacobs, counsellor from ER4 Ambulance Service, Dr Jaco van Niekerk, trauma specialist and Ruan Vermaak from CrisisOnCall, held a discussion on suicide with special reference to teenagers. (A recording of the discussion can be found on CrisisOnCall’s Facebook page.) Pieter Cloete is the radio host.

We live in a very stressful world and as a result, CrisisOnCall feels that this is a subject needing widespread discussion even though it is a difficult one to discuss. As a reader, if you know what signs to look for, and what kind of help to offer, you may just be able to save someone’s life.

The following statistics concerning teenagers are supplied by the SA Federation for Mental Health:

  • One in five young people try to take their own lives.
  • The age group 10 – 19 is one of the highest groups at risk for suicide.
  • More than a third (38.3%) felt so desperate that they needed to consult a doctor.
  • Almost a third (29.1%) required medical treatment after attempting suicide.
  • Almost a tenth (9.5%) of all unnatural deaths amongst teenagers is a result of suicide.
  • Less than one percent of the beds in hospitals for mental health patients, are allocated to children and adolescents.

If you’re concerned about your own, or someone else’s child, look out for the following warning signs. The signs could mean that the person is at risk of suicide. The risk is greater if the behaviour is new or has increased, and if it is associated with a painful event, loss or change. These signs include:

  • Talk about dying or killing oneself.
  • Talk about being a burden to others.
  • Too much or too little sleep.
  • Being distracted or feeling isolated.
  • An obsession with death.
  • Loss of interest in things previously cared about.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Making arrangements and getting your affairs in order.
  • Giving away possessions, especially valuable items.
  • Saying things like “I will no longer be in your way.”
  • Sayings like “I can’t handle everything; life is too difficult.”
  • Sayings like; “No one understands me or no one feels like I do.”

Depression and mood swings.

What you can do to help:

  • You are not in this alone. I’m here to help you.
  • I understand that you have a genuine illness which is causing these thoughts and feelings.
  • You may not believe it now, but you will feel differently once again.
  • I can’t understand exactly how you are feeling, but I care for you and want to help.
  • When you want to give up, just say to yourself to hang in for just one more day, one more hour or one more minute – just whatever you can master.
  • You are important to me. Your life is important to me.

CrisisOnCall membership includes unlimited telephonic counselling as well was three sessions with a registered counsellor/psychologist as a standard benefit.

After paramedics of ER24 ambulance service issued a warning to the public about serious medical risks when children and animals in a vehicle are being left in the sun, eNews channel journalist Serusha Govender has decided to test the statement.

During January 2012, she worked with ER24 paramedics in Johannesburg. A vehicle was parked in the sun just after 10:00. The temperature outside was 29°C at the time and a cool 19.4°C inside. The test vehicle was left in the sun for 30 minutes. The outside temperature then rose to 29.2°C, while the temperature inside the vehicle rose to 43.2°C.

At 12:00 the outside temperature was 31.3°C and the temperature inside the vehicle 57.3°C. Serusha climbed into the vehicle at that time. After only 15 minutes, paramedics advised her to get out as her hands started shaking and she was sweating profusely. The inside temperature has risen significantly. At 13:20 the inside temperature was 63°C.

This test is proof of how dangerous it is to leave a child or animal in a vehicle. In fact, it can be life-threatening.

The following tips are provided by paramedics:

  • Under no circumstances should a child (or animal) be left alone in a vehicle, even for a few minutes, without the necessary supervision.
  • Always make sure that your children leave the vehicle with you to make sure you do not lock them by accident in the vehicle.
  • If you see a child or animal alone in a vehicle, immediately call the CrisisOnCall emergency number and ask for assistance. Also take immediate action by breaking a window or asking for help if the situation becomes serious.
  • Children removed from a vehicle where they were exposed to heat must undergo a medical examination immediately. Paramedics will be sent out for this.

(Article: Werner Entertainment, Communication Manager ER24)

Swimming season is also stress season.

With the arrival of summer, drownings once again become a regular crisis. There are regular emergency service reports of children falling into swimming pools and in come cases, drowning. Here is an example where a CrisisOnCall member witnessed such a case:

“I hereby want to say what a privilege it is to belong to CrisisOnCall. Yesterday on 9/11/2017, at 14:45, I called you about a child who was drowning in a swimming pool. There weren’t any questions asked and within minutes an ambulance arrived on the scene. Thank you too to the well trained and friendly staff who regularly called me to update me on the ambulance’s progress. It’s great to be part of the “family”. I am incredibly grateful and proud." - Miems Fox

(The five year old child was discharged from hospital three days later without any after effects thanks to the quick response.)

The following factors should always be borne in mind while at a swimming pool:

  • Children easily fall silently into water.Kinders val maklik geruisloos in die water. A todler’s head is heavier in relation to his/body and they can easily fall head first into water.
  • Swimming pools should be fenced with a fence that children cannot clamber over. The gate that is used should not easily be able to be opened by children and should close automatically. (Keep the gate closed when the swimming pool is not in use.)
  • Should there not be a swimming pool fence, a safety net should be used.
  • Alle deure wat toegang tot die swembad area verleen, moet altyd gesluit wees.
  • Childen should not be allowed at a pool without adult supervision.
  • Teach your children to swim from a very early age, and if possible, make use of a swimming school.

It is important to always remain calm during an incident and to call the correct number. CrisisOnCall’s emergency number is effective country wide as we use the nearest service provider. Telephonic advice and service is given to callers while emergency services in on its way.


"Who will you call in a
crisis situation?"

"Who will you call in a
crisis situation?"

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