Always a paramedic

Hearts that beat to the same rhythm

Wednesday, October 23 2013

Millions of lives are saved and many more have irrevocably been changed because of the work of paramedics. In a recent interview, seasoned paramedic and Netcare 911’s general manager coastal region, Marc van Heerden, said that the most satisfying part of his job is knowing that he has had a direct impact on the lives of the people he has treated through the years. Even though he has been in management for more than a decade, Van Heerden still views himself as a paramedic first and foremost and cannot ever imagine being anything else. He is not alone. There are many remarkable men and women working in the emergency medical services industry. Their hearts beat to the same rhythm – they live to serve, to save lives and to turn tragedy into triumph whenever possible.
On Thursday evening, 25 October 2013 on the occasion of the company’s 2013 Carer of the Year awards banquet, Netcare 911 will pay tribute to three outstanding employees who placed their lives on hold to touch the lives of others and were named finalists out of a total of more than 20 nominees from Netcare 911 operations across the country.
Goodman Nyoka works as a case manager at Netcare 911 nowadays, but this intermediate life support paramedic will always be a paramedic first and foremost. While en route to work from his home in Roodepoort on 28 June, Nyoka came across a motor vehicle accident on the N1 where a motorist had lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a side barrier. Nyoka stopped, got out of his vehicle and assessed the scene.
The driver of the vehicle and her little toddler, who was safely strapped into the back seat of the car, were deeply distressed. Nyoka got into their car, calmed the mother and child, assessed their injuries and commenced treatment. While the toddler sustained only minor injuries caused by broken glass, the mother was seriously injured. An ambulance soon arrived but, as the highest qualified paramedic on the scene, Goodman remained in charge, continued treating his patient and accompanied her to the hospital in the back of the ambulance. In the meantime, Nyoka had also arranged that a basic life support paramedic on scene follow the ambulance to the hospital in Nyoka’s private vehicle, with the three-year-old toddler safely ensconced in the back seat, so that the injured mother would know that her child was being safely cared for.
Once the patient was handed over to the hospital staff, Nyoka, himself the father of a three-year-old, took the little girl to her créche and then contacted the mother’s family to inform them of the accident. Only then did he proceed to Netcare 911’s offices in Midrand to start his day much later than usual.
Thanks to his compassion and vast experience in road operations, accumulated over a period of nine years, Nyoka had made a considerable difference to the life of a mother and her child. The mother, who made a full recovery, remembered what the valiant Nyoka had done for her and her little daughter on that fateful day in June and upon discharge from hospital personally came to thank her hero.
In the community of Raisethorpe in Pietermaritzburg, 28-year-old Mohamed Yusuf Sheik is known as something of a ‘serial’ hero. The good deeds of this humble basic life support paramedic are many.
Sharina Munilal, receptionist at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital, nominated Sheik, who is stationed at Netcare 911’s base at St Anne’s Hospital, as Netcare 911’s Carer of the Year after he fearlessly rushed to the aid of a young doctor who had been fatally wounded outside his surgery. In May this year, while at home, Munilal heard the screams of a woman punctuated by the repeated sound of gunshots. Looking through her window, she saw the off-duty Sheik, who had stopped at a local shop after work, rush to the aid of the doctor who lay slumped over his vehicle’s steering wheel. “He went to the victim’s aid without a second thought. Many others would have been concerned for their own safety as it was dark and the gunmen could still have been in the area. I watched this quietly spoken, unassuming young man begin chest compressions and CPR while trying to stem the bleeding,” notes Munilal.
The victim had been shot three times in the neck and upper body but Sheik was not about to give up on him. Sadly, he was not able to save the life of his patient that night but he made a difference by fighting to save the life of a father, husband and valued member of the community.
Munilal also tells of the time when the young paramedic saw smoke pouring out of a local school teacher’s garage and how his swift action saved the lives of a small child and the family’s helper. Then there was the time when, while on his way to Durban, he stopped at the scene of an accident to render much-needed assistance. All of these good deeds were performed while Sheik was off duty and could so easily have looked the other way.
George Moloi, coordinator at Netcare 911’s Kroon Hospital base, was the good Samaritan who put his life on hold for several hours on a cold winter’s night in August to come to the aid of two stranded colleagues. The Cape Town-based paramedics, who were on their way from Johannesburg back to the mother city after having taken delivery of a brand new ambulance, found themselves stranded on a dark and lonely road more than a 1 000 kilometres from home.
One call is all it took for Moloi to rush to their assistance. He made a bad situation so much better through his kindness and warmth, from finding them accommodation and paying for it, ensuing that they had basic necessities and were well fed, to staying with their vehicle, getting it towed away by the manufacturer and arranging for them to get safely home – nothing was too much trouble for George, the good Samaritan who made the time to come to the aid of two stranded colleagues in need of a helping hand.
According to Craig Grindell, chief operating officer of Netcare 911, the three finalists in this year’s Carer of the Year awards are the embodiment of Netcare’s values of care, truth, dignity, participation and passion. “We encourage our staff members at all levels to live these values in every interaction with patients, the community, colleagues, and other stakeholders. Our three finalists showed compassion for the circumstances of others and used their thorough knowledge of emergency medicine and their understanding of human nature to the fullest,” he adds.
Noeleen Phillipson, managing director of Netcare 911, concurs: “I salute not only the nominees and finalists of the 2013 Carer of the Year Award but all our emergency medical services personnel who are unfailing in their dedication to making the world a better place.”


Issued by : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcells Cryogenics
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare and Netcare 911
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney or Sarah Beswick
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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