By Lee-Yandra Paulsen
As the festive season approaches, trauma-related injuries increase, and questions arise regarding the measures in place to ensure public safety and health. Chief of Operations at the Western Cape Department of Health, Dr. Saadiq Karriem, shed light on the subject during an interview with VOC Breakfast.
“This is indeed a very busy time for us, and alcohol often plays a major role in the trauma cases we encounter. Our EMS teams are particularly stretched between December 15th and January 15th each year, responding to roughly 6,000 calls during this period. Many of these calls are trauma-related, involving incidents like near-drownings and mountain rescues,” Dr. Karriem explained.
Collaboration is key during the festive season, and the Department of Health works closely with various organizations, including the South African Police Services (SAPS), Air Mercy Services (AMS), the Disaster teams, and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). Karriem emphasized the importance of their disaster team and the seamless coordination with traffic authorities, SAPS, and Law Enforcement to ensure swift emergency responses.
In preparation for challenges like load shedding, the department has implemented measures to maintain essential services. This includes the installation of inverters at all facilities, equipped hospitals with generators, and established Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems and switch-over mechanisms to counteract the effects of load shedding. Furthermore, major hospitals have solar panels installed to ensure power availability.
In addition to trauma-related cases, the Department of Health continues its vigilance in monitoring diseases such as COVID-19 and measles. Karriem stressed the importance of maintaining sufficient facility capacity to handle the surge in trauma cases during the festive season while staying vigilant regarding public health concerns like COVID-19 and measles.
Notably, Karriem mentioned that the measles outbreak has not yet been declared over in the Western Cape, with three cases reported in November and eight cases in October. This serves as a reminder that even in the midst of festive preparations, public health remains a priority.