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Ambulance response times have dropped significantly in areas where the emergency management services has installed its Home Finder Project signage.
THE Home Finder Project, a Johannesburg emergency management services (EMS) initiative to help reduce response time, is receiving positive feedback from residents.


Emeregency services personnel can now easily attend to emergencies in informal settlements Emeregency services personnel can now easily attend to emergencies in informal settlements“Based on the enormous positive feedback from EMS personnel, community members and councillors, the Home Finder Project has proven to be very effective,” says Esther Manzini, the EMS’s public information officer and the Home Finder project manager.

Response time to emergencies is being reduced, she says, and people are happy that ambulances can get to them in 10 minutes. The project was “designed to assist EMS personnel to locate a house number or area quickly in an emergency situation in an effort to reduce the response times of the emergency vehicles.”

Launched in Ivory Park, in Soweto in 2008, initially 40 house identification plates were erected outside homes. In November 2010, a further 150 plates, costing an estimated R80 000, were installed in five different sections in Ivory Park – in Jacob Zuma, Zwelitsha, Kwa-Green, Emthojeni and Angola.

These triangular plates are mounted on poles; they have house numbers and the names of the sections written on them. They have been placed in different sections so that the EMS can survey how well the project is doing.

“As EMS personnel, we are faced on a daily basis with the challenge of responding to areas with no visible house number and street name,” explains Manzini. “This causes a delay and results in ambulances having to drive around for hours to locate a house number … Our duty is to save lives.”

Joburg’s emergency services has 28 stations, which makes it one of the biggest such services units on the continent. Covering an area of 1 620km2, the EMS serves a population of approximately 3,6 million. Central to its operations is the saving of lives and property.

“For us, every second counts, so the sooner we can get to a patient the better their chances of survival,” she says.

The aim is to roll out the project throughout the city and the EMS hopes other stakeholders – such as the Johannesburg metro police department, the Johannesburg Roads Agency, the department of housing and the South African Police Service, among others – will buy into it and help with the roll-out.

Manzini concludes: “We plead with the corporate sectors to adopt a community where we can roll out the Home Finder Project so we can save more lives.”

Hot spots for the EMS at the moment include Ivory Park, Diepsloot, Orange Farm and Alexandra. To make a donation towards the Home Finder Project, call 011 758 9540 or email The EMS has its headquarters in the Johannesburg metropolitan police department building, at 195 Main Road, Martindale.

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