‘Every second counts’ – Polokwane emergency group praised for their quick service
The police in Polokwane thanked the Citizen's Emergency Limpopo WhatsApp group for their quick response to accidents in-and-around Limpopo, saying that the combined efforts from various emergency service providers, has never been seen in any other city in South Africa. “We are proud of you as you attend to each accident as a matter of emergency, even if it is in the middle of the night,” Lt Col Willie Mapaya said as he thanked the admins and members of the WhatsApp group, ‘Citizen’s Emergency Limpopo’. Mapaya, of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Polokwane, recently sent out a voice note to commend the members for their hard work and dedication. “I discussed the group with other police officials when we had a meeting in the Free State and they were surprised when I told them that police, traffic officials, members of breakdowns, ambulances and the fire brigade are one team,” Mapaya explained. He said this has never been seen in any other city. “Keep on doing the good work. When you do good things, people don’t talk but when bad things happen, they can talk a lot. They don’t talk a lot about you because you are doing an excellent job.”
Citizens Emergency Limpopo is a WhatsApp group, which has been instrumental in not only assisting people in emergency situations but also by helping to prevent other situations by giving out information. This group provides information about accidents as well as keeps the public updated on issues which may concern them in and around the province.
The group was founded by Zack Botha and Michelle Venter, about four years ago and has since grown to four groups with more than 600 members on them.
Zack’s motto is, ‘It is not about saving a life; but giving that life a second chance’. “We are connected to disaster management, the police, EMS, the fire brigade and CPF groups. We cover a large part of Limpopo, which includes Phalaborwa, Polokwane, Tzaneen and Bela-Bela.”
Zack says they do not receive any compensation for the time and effort they spend on these groups. “We cover our own expenses but these groups are very close to my heart,” he adds.
The job is one with long hours but Zack is supported by fellow admins, Petro Jansen van Vuuren, her husband, Stefan and Lee-Anne Mulder.
Duties of these admin include getting hold of rescue workers such as tow trucks, ambulances and police as well as reporting accidents on all the groups.
Petro explained that their main goal is to dispatch emergency services to an accident scene as quick as possible. “When there is an accident, every second counts. It is wonderful to work hand-in-hand with people that have the same motto in life, all lives matter. The biggest challenge that I’ve experienced is to motivate people to stay on the group. As a dispatcher, you need to be the first to be asked and the last to be told. I would like to say thank you to all first responders that selflessly continue to give to the people,” she says.
Michelle was part of a previous group, which helped when her daughter and granddaughter were involved in an accident two years ago. She says if an accident is not in-and-around Polokwane, they can report it to the relevant traffic groups as they have joined hands with traffic groups from Tzaneen to Pretoria.
Michelle is a housewife and it is her passion to help others. “My daughter, Lee-Anne and Petro joined hands last year to help. I would say the biggest challenge is when you report about an accident and only find out later that a friend or family member was involved. Another big challenge is when you get rescue out and there are several other services that have stolen the call.”
Lee-Anne says after her accident, she saw the need to assist others and decided to join her mom. “It is difficult as you do not always know who the victims of the accident are and I had a friend who passed away in one of these accidents and I only found out afterwards.”
The non-profit group extended a thank you to the emergency staff from the Traffic Department, the police, as well as the ambulance and towing services.
Anyone can join the group and the only thing they ask, is that you report an accident when you see one. To join the group or for more information simply contact Lee-Anne at 066 287 7964 or Petro at 082 801 8931.
Source: Polokwane Review