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EMS opens new training facilities
28 September 2007

The City's emergency management services is dedicated to ensuring its staff are skilled to international standards, and it has opened three new training academies to achieve this vision.

Officially opening the facility, mayoral committee member for public safety Thomas Phakathi and the head of EMS Ntombi Gule
Officially opening the facility, mayoral committee member for public safety Thomas Phakathi and the head of EMS Ntombi Gule

THREE new training academies have been opened for the City's emergency management services (EMS).

The academies, devoted to medical and fire-fighting training, and short courses, were opened on Wednesday, 26 September. A passing out parade was also held for trainees, many of whom were rewarded for their hard work and dedication.

First on the day's itinerary was the Cojems Medical Training Academy in Florida, in the west of the city. Guests at the opening included the member of the mayoral committee for public safety, Thomas Phakathi; the chief of the EMS, Ntombi Gule, and members of the EMS of all ranks.

Phakathi and Gule officially opened the facility, to cheers of support from the EMS staff. They then undertook a short tour of the training academy, learning that it has a library, well equipped with books and computers.

"We have medical and related books in this library to help the students with their assignments. The computers also have internet access and the students will be allowed to use them to gather information for their studies," said Sheila Molefe, the library assistant at the academy.

There were not a lot of libraries like this and the academy was happy to have such a facility. "I think the students will appreciate having a library and computers they will have access to whenever they need it."

There are also advance life support rooms for practical studies. "The students will do the things that they are expected to do when they get to a scene and must save a life or even lives," said Wynand van Dernet, a facilitator at the academy.

He said that there was an anatomical model in each of the advance life support rooms, which functioned like a normal person. "You can feel his pulses; the body is soft so when a student uses an injection they can feel it piercing like on normal skin. The models can talk and do things that a normal person does when they are in an emergency state."

Mayoral committee member for public safety Thomas Phakathi and the head of EMS Ntombi Gule inspect the EMS teams
Mayoral committee member for public safety Thomas Phakathi and the head of EMS Ntombi Gule inspect the EMS teams

Commercial training
From Florida, buses ferried the guests to Brixton, to open the Commercial Faculty Academy. Here short courses of three to 12 weeks will be run, such as level one first aid and fire extinguisher training.

Moving on to one of the oldest fire stations in the city – Rietfontein - the fire-fighting academy was opened and an awards ceremony and passing out parade were held for EMS graduates. Students and the South African Police Service (SAPS) band welcomed the guests.

The band played while Phakathi and Gule inspected the students. Then proceedings got under way with a moment of reflection headed by chief chaplain Legoete.

SABC1 newsreader Noxolo Grootboom was the master of ceremonies. She praised Gule for her hard work at the EMS. "She is the first black female chief [at the EMS], she's a woman of strength and she has paved the way for an increase of the number of women in this field," Grootboom said.

Gule explained that the EMS was training young cadets, equipping them with skills that were of an international standard. "We want our cadets to go international; we want them to go to third world countries and make a difference."

Gender ratios
The department was making progress in balancing gender ratios. "We are currently sitting with 21 percent female in the department and we are happy with the progress made thus far," Gule said.

Touching on the preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, she said that more people were being trained ahead of the international football tournament.

The EMS on parade
The EMS on parade

And then it was time to reward the students. Those who had shown dedication and commitment from first to third year were given trophies and certificates.

The Rietfontein Fire Station Academy was opened and Phakathi said that the City needed fire fighters to be agents of change. "We need you to live with the motto of Batho Pele [putting people first]," Phakathi said.

He added that the City was fully aware of the improvement in ambulance response times and in their availability.

To end the day, EMS fire fighters showed off their fire-fighting skills on a burning building kept at the station for such demonstrations and training.

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Last Updated on 05 June 2008