Can Emergency Services access your estate?

Emergency! And the ambulance can’t get in. What now?

While the vast majority of residential complexes do not hesitate to allow access to emergency services needing to assist a resident with a medical emergency, there are rare, but potentially life-threatening instances where this does occur.

Shalen Ramduth, director: business development and support services at emergency medical services provider Netcare 911, says this happens from time to time at the gates of a residential complex, gated community or business park when security guards insist on being provided with full credentials before they will grant access to emergency medical teams.

“While these kinds of tight security procedures are quite understandable and have been put in place to protect residents, time is always of the essence in emergency situations and holdups of this nature can potentially have serious consequences for the patient,” he notes.

Review your access controls

Ramduth consequently strongly recommends that homeowners’ associations and body corporates consider and review their access controls to cater for the possibility of such emergency situations.

“Estates, complexes, gated communities and office parks should put a comprehensive set of protocols in place to enable legitimate emergency services providers such as Netcare 911 easy access in the event of a medical emergency,” he says.

Netcare 911 is one best-known emergency medical services providers in the country, so it is therefore extremely rare for the well-branded and equipped Netcare 911 emergency vehicles and ambulances to be prevented or delayed in accessing secured premises

Once your gated community or complex has established a set of access protocols for emergency services providers, it must take care to effectively relate these protocols to their security company.

However, Ramduth personally experienced this kind of situation a few years ago, when, as a Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedic, he was part of a team called to attend to a resident experiencing severe chest pain.

“It was extremely frustrating for us as the emergency team,” he says.  “The guards insisted that we first prove our identity and tried to contact the homeowner to obtain permission for us to enter. They argued that they were ‘only doing their job’, which of course was the case, but their actions potentially placed a patient at risk.”

Speak to your security company

Ramduth says that once your gated community or complex has established a set of access protocols for emergency services providers, it must take care to effectively relate these protocols to their security company.

“Security staff must be properly trained to know when it is necessary to grant access to an emergency services provider. If guards have concerns about the legitimacy of an ambulance or emergency vehicle, one of them could be asked to accompany the vehicle, rather than delay it at the entrance to an estate,” he advises.

“Security staff should also be provided with a comprehensive list of emergency contact numbers. They can also be informed that the Netcare 911 national emergency operations centre number can be contacted at any time on 082 911 in the event of a medical emergency,” notes Ramduth.

What to do should you experience a medical emergency

Call the Netcare 911 emergency operations centre on 082 911 and do as follows:

  • Give your name and the telephone number you are calling from to the call taker.
    Provide a brief description of the emergency and circumstances.
    Be sure to provide the correct address or location of the incident to assist paramedics to get to the scene.
    Stay on the line with the call centre operator and listen carefully to their questions and guidance.
    Contact, or get someone else to contact, your security company to ensure paramedics are able to access your complex easily.

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