Suspected COVID-19 patient transported in ‘first of its kind’ SIU ambulance

A Special Infectious Unit (SIU) ambulance was recently used to transport a suspected COVID-19 patient in Pretoria North.

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A specialised emergency services ambulance has really given a boost to Tshwane’s fight against COVID-19. 

MMC of Community Safety Karen Meyer said the specialised emergency medical services capabilities of the Tshwane Emergency Services Department (ESD) were recently showcased when the Special Infectious Unit (SIU) Ambulance transported a suspected COVID-19 patient in Pretoria North.

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Image: supplied

As of Wednesday 20 January, there are 35 558 active COVID-19 cases in Gauteng. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also reported a total of 80 new deaths. The full report can be found here.

SPECIALISED AMBULANCE PREVENTS STAFF FROM BEING EXPOSED TO COVID-19

Meyer said the SIU Ambulance is equipped with a negative pressure isolation chamber which ultimately allows patients to be scanned in the chamber without exposing staff to COVID-19.

“This ambulance is the first of its kind in South Africa and fulfils the key requirements for responding to and dealing with hazardous material Level B incidents, viral hemorrhagic fever, extensively drug-resistant or multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR or MDR TB), and more recently, COVID-19 patient treatment and transportation,” said Meyer. 

According to Meyer, the team of paramedics on the SIU Ambulance is trained and equipped to handle medical emergencies where suspected or known cases of infectious or contagious substances are involved. She went on to say that to date no member has been infected with COVID-19, largely due to the maintenance of strict protocols and standard operating procedures and the advanced equipment and capabilities of the vehicle.

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Image: supplied

“The SIU Ambulance, along with the specialised Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Ambulance, was procured before the DA-led multiparty government in Tshwane was unlawfully removed and the City placed under administration,” Meyer said. 

NEED FOR VEHICLES IDENTIFIED LONG BEFORE VIRUS OUTBREAK 

While the specialised ambulances were launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for such vehicles was identified by the ESD management team long before the COVID-19 outbreak, having studied the trends of various medical outbreaks, like Ebola and tuberculosis.

“Thanks to the foresight of the City of Tshwane’s Emergency Services, these specialised vehicles have boosted the City’s response to and fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Meyer. 

“The fact that the City operates these highly specialised vehicles is evidence that the ESD renders a world-class emergency medical services response to the residents of the City of Tshwane. It is also a testament to the need for the City to continue providing such emergency medical services as a fully licensed ambulance operator,” added Meyer. 

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