"We manage your crisis
when you are not able to"

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 dont 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?"