Chris Hani District Emergency Medical Services (EMS) women employees have been struggling silently from the impact of having to deal with and respond to traumatic accidents first hand, without counselling services being provided.
EMS medic Cebisa Mabandla came up with the concept of having the women celebrated in an effort to boost their confidence. She spoke about the harsh reality at the Women’s Day event which took place at the Queens Casino and Hotel on Friday.
Mabandla said: “I came up with idea after I noticed that the EMS women employees’ self-esteem was eroding. They were becoming pessimistic and had lost passion for their work.”
Mabandla said the negative behaviour patterns were due to psychological difficulties the women had to endure in the working environment. However, efforts were now being made by the department of health to bring in a wellness programme.
“EMS employees are attacked in township areas, they are robbed, which affects their well being. We were supposed to get a wellness programme a long time ago because other provinces have had them. I received counselling after I was held at gunpoint while I was working in Cape Town.”
She said the government had also made long-term counselling accessible for EMS employees for serious cases that required a number of sessions.
“I do not know why we do not have such services in the Eastern Cape, because people’s spirits are dying. They may appear to be well today, but if you were to open them up, inside you would witness the reality of their suffering.
“During one of my visits to the EMS bases, I came back crying and deeply hurt after I spoke to a woman who was depressed and kept herself secluded from other employees.”
Mabandla said she had invited this woman to join the celebration, but she declined as she feared how the colleagues who had not seen her for a long time would respond to her current state.
“People really become depressed, but they are not receiving much help from the health department.”
She said the work was previously for men. However, as more women needed to put food on the table they also took it on.
“We can handle the job quite well, although picking up stretchers is a bit heavy and difficult for us. We work hard and are able to deliver.”
Mabandla said this was EMS’s first Women’s Day event and was organised for the Chris Hani District EMS bases, but some of the employees from other bases did not come. She added that the vision of the employees was to make it an annual provincial event.