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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?"