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Another patient transporter crash

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The other eight patients were discharged after being assessed by medical practitioners at both Springbok and Upington hospitals

Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

NORTHERN Cape Health MEC Fufe Makatong has expressed her well wishes to 18 patients travelling in an EMS patient transporter that was involved in an accident earlier this week.

According to Makatong, the accident happened between Aggenys and Poffadder.

“Eighteen stable patients, who were scheduled for medical check-ups in Kimberley this week, were travelling with the EMS patient transport vehicle from the Namaqua district to Kimberley.”

According to a preliminary report, 11 patients including the EMS driver are in a stable condition and recovering well at hospitals in Springbok, Upington and Kimberley. The other eight patients were discharged after being assessed by medical practitioners at both Springbok and Upington hospitals.

Makatong said that, upon learning about the incident, she had dispatched her office to visit the patients who were flown to the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley.

“I wish the affected patients a speedy recovery and further apologise to the patients and their families for this unfortunate situation,” Makatong stated.

Police spokesperson Captain Sergio Kock confirmed that the Aggeneys police are investigating a case of reckless and negligent driving following the accident that happened on Sunday at around 11.30am.

“The patient transporter was enroute to Kimberley with 18 patients when a strong wind apparently caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The bus rolled several times and came to a standstill next to the road. All the occupants were transported to hospitals in Kimberley and Bloemfontein for medical treatment. The investigation continues.”

In February this year, more than 10 people were injured when another Northern Cape Department of Health patient transport vehicle was also involved in an accident while travelling from Postmasburg to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley.

The accident occurred roughly 20 kilometres from Postmasburg.

The patients included pregnant women, children and elderly, who were on their way to Kimberley for appointments and medical treatment.

According to one of the patients, the driver of the transporter (a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter) was reluctant to drive the vehicle initially.

“The female driver said that she did not want to drive the vehicle as she did not know how to and only had experience in driving ambulances. However, she was instructed by her superiors to take the wheel and we departed.

“About 20 kilometres outside of Postmasburg, she overtook two vehicles, a Volvo and a Toyota, before attempting to also overtake a truck. However, when she was already in the right-hand lane she noticed oncoming vehicles and swerved back into the left lane, colliding with the truck’s trailer with the left side of the vehicle. We were dragged under the truck for about 100 metres, with chaos breaking out amongst the patients who started to scream and cry.

“We screamed at the driver to hit the brakes, which she did, causing the vehicle to dislodge itself from under the truck. After we came to a standstill, the driver said that the vehicle’s brakes and clutch were not working properly,” the patient said.

“We suspect that the vehicle was not roadworthy and the department is trying to cover up the incident. They risked our lives and we could all have been dead,” another patient said at the time.

A week later, 15 passengers in an ambulance were forced to wait for more than an hour and a half in the dark for a replacement vehicle after their ambulance was pulled off the road for not having a valid licence disc.

According to one of the passengers, they were on their way back to Jan Kempdorp after receiving treatment at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital.

“Fifteen of us were placed in the ambulance which had no seats. Women, children and the elderly were forced to sit on the floor,” the passenger said, adding that most of the occupants were TB and cancer patients.

“About halfway to Jan Kempdorp we were pulled over by traffic officials and were ordered out of the ambulance. The traffic cop said we couldn’t go further as the licence disc had expired and the ambulance was overloaded.”

He added that the patients were forced to wait more than an hour and a half in the dark before a replacement vehicle was sent.