As the long Easter weekend draws near, many South Africans will be traveling to visit family and friends or one of the country’s many beautiful vacation spots. The increased number of vehicles on the roads, sometimes coupled with fatigue, alcohol or a sense of carelessness, can unfortunately lead to injuries and fatalities on our roads.
“Every motorist has a role to play in making South Africa’s roads safer over this Easter period. By following reasonable safety precautions and courteous driving behaviour, it is possible to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths and ensure that more people reach their destinations and return safely after their holidays,” says Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911 Director: business development and support services.
Netcare 911 will be out in full force over this holiday season to assist anyone in need of emergency medical attention. With support from Netcare St Anne’s Hospital, Netcare 911 will also be actively engaging with the public, spreading the message of how to stay safe and avoid unnecessary harm while travelling.
“Through educating and informing the public on various ways they can increase their safety and that of their loved ones, we are hopeful to make a difference,” Ramduth observes. “We will be distributing educational flyers and posters with safety tips all along the N3 route near Pietermaritzburg and Durban,” he adds.
He notes that the two major contributors to road accidents are driver fatigue and drunk driving, both of which are preventable. “Drivers need to consider the importance of being mentally alert and in good physical condition when embarking on a road trip. This means that they should get enough rest before undertaking a road journey and never drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any medication that might impair their judgement or ability to drive safely,” cautions Ramduth.
“Drivers should also remember that even if they are well rested before departing, driving for long stretches at a time causes driver fatigue,” says Ramduth. “In order to avoid this, take turns with another qualified individual to drive, and remember to stop for a rest and to stretch your legs at least every two hours, as this will help you to stay alert and awake,” he adds.
Before setting off on holiday, drivers should ensure that their vehicle is roadworthy and equipped with a spare tyre in good repair, basic tools, reflective triangle and first aid kit.
“The importance of a first aid kit is often overlooked and sometimes the contents of the kits have expired, rendering them unusable,” says Ramduth. “It is therefore essential to check the contents of your first aid kit regularly and replace any expired or damaged contents,” he adds.
Here is a handy checklist of essential items for your first aid kit:
- Cotton wool
- A digital thermometer
- Medical gloves
- Two medical eye patches
- Burnshield dressing
- A variety of bandages and plasters as well as sterile gauze
- Antiseptic wipes and liquid
- A space blanket
- Safety pins, scissors, tweezers: and
- Paracetamol tablets and syrup
Netcare St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg sees many emergency and trauma patients during Easter, given its close proximity to the East Coast – a popular holiday destination, especially during the Easter holidays. Louis Joubert, general manager of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital, shares some insights on how the public can assist emergency medical personnel in the event of an emergency situation.
“Firstly, it is crucial that your medical history, including details of any medicine allergies and chronic health conditions you may have, your identity document and medical scheme membership information is easily obtainable by paramedics and other emergency staff,” says Joubert.
“If you are involved in an accident, it can save precious time if emergency medical personnel are able to identify you and obtain your medical history quickly, as it will help to speed up your treatment at the scene of the accident or incident and in the emergency department,” he says. “With access to your medical history, paramedics and medical staff will be able to ensure your treatment is appropriate for your individual medical background, and hence, more effective. They will also be able to notify your next of kin more quickly.”
Joubert says it is good practice to prepare and plan your route in advance and to identify any potential problems that may impact you on your journey. “Pinpoint all the hospitals and clinics on your route, so that wherever you are, you will know where the nearest medical facility is. Never stop in an isolated location and ensure that you regularly update at least two people, who are not traveling with you, on your current location,” he advises.
“Technology is making it easier to call for assistance in the case of an emergency, with a partnership between Netcare 911 and mySOS emergency mobile application,” adds Ramduth.
“In an emergency, the mySOS app sends an alert to Netcare 911’s national emergency operations centre, or other relevant emergency services, and your selected loved ones to show them your GPS location,” he explains. “The app also makes a phone call to Netcare 911, or the most appropriate service provider for the type of emergency encountered, so that assistance is mobilised in the shortest possible time.”
In addition, the app can direct you to medical facilities along your route and also includes a function that can track your location while you are travelling, for greater peace of mind for both the traveller and their loved ones. If you do not reach your destination within a time limit set by yourself, the app will alert your selected emergency contacts, providing them with your position and a map of the route you took, while continuing to track your location. This potentially lifesaving service uses minimal battery power on your phone.
The mySOS app can be downloaded for free for Android as well as iOS at https://www.mysos.co.za/download.html.
“It is always our hope that there will not be any accidents, and we hope to pre-empt many preventable accidents by promoting road safety awareness. Nonetheless, Netcare 911’s dedicated emergency care practitioners will be on full alert and ready to assist in case of any medical emergency that may arise,” Ramduth concludes.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital and Netcare 911
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]