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MBABANE – Toyota Land Cruiser makers boast that it is a vehicle made for all-terrain, but paramedics using the same model for ambulances think otherwise.

Patrick Tembe, who is a Zion Pastor around Ndlembeni in Ekuvinjelweni, had to wait three hours to be transported to hospital, after he was injured, when a house collapsed on him. Tembe’s family called for the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) but they did not arrive.  Tembe, who is in his mid-60s was stuck under the rubble for over an hour.

World over, ambulances are the first contact in emergencies to save lives as they offer firt aid and then transport the sick or injured to hospitals. They are vehicles which are equipped to transport people to and from hospitals but also provide basic life support to also reduce trauma. According to a relative, when the paramedics were called, they allegedly said they would not be unable to drive closer to the home where Tembe laid injured because the road was in a bad state. “They said their ambulance vehicle would be unable to navigate the terrain ,” alleged the family member.
The family was then left with no option but to call for a taxi to transport Tembe to hospital.


“We had to carry him using a blanket,” said a relative. He said they used a blanket to lift him and put him in the taxi, which was used to transport him for at least three kilometers, to where the ambulance had parked, citing road difficulty in reaching the homestead but by that time, the family had already paid for the taxi. The source said by that time, Tembe was visibly in excruciating pain as three hours had already passed by since he was injured. The family member said what surprised them the most was that the ambulance was a Toyota Land cruiser, which was built for rough terrain, yet the taxi they used was a simple sedan, which has a lower wheelbase.

“So the taxi made it just fine up the  road yet the ambulance, which had much larger wheels could not? This really just left us confused,” said the family member. Noteworthy, Tembe had a Honda Fit vehicle that was parked outside one of his wife’s houses. His wife was around but she does not know how to  drive and there was no one nearby to drive it. *Molly, one of the relatives said she was shocked when she saw the land cruiser as it clearly meant that the paramedics did not want to drive further to the homestead.


She said the residents were also surprised because many vehicles, including those with a lower wheelbase, do drive on the gravel road that the paramedics claimed was not good for their land cruiser. According to Molly, Tembe was injured when he had gone to break a wall in one of the houses at his homestead. The house is said to have been built at the homestead of his first wife and it was built for the second one. Tembe is said to have decided to remove some bricks from the house, but as soon as he struck it with a hammer, one of the walls  collapsed, resulting in the house falling in  on him.
Tembe was injured on the face as well as on his back and arms as the bricks and steel bars fell on him. After the accident, Tembe is said to have called for help but there was no one at the homestead. It is alleged that he lay under the rubble of bricks calling out for help for almost an hour.
One of his relatives *Jackie said she was at a nearby homestead and when she got out of her house, she heard someone screaming for help. She said she could not tell who it was until another resident said it appeared someone had been injured at the Tembe homestead. It is alleged that when Jackie realised that Tembe had been injured, she called for help from the residents nearby. It was then that the paramedics were called.

Despite the call having been made at around 1pm, the paramedics are said to have arrived at around 4pm, where they then called to say they would wait along the road. This publication gathered that there are two ambulances in Pigg’s Peak. One is at the Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital, while the other is usually parked at a base where there are paramedics. The one at the hospital is a Toyota Quantum model, while the one used by paramedics is a Toyota Land Cruiser.


Meanwhile, some of the members of the public and also medical personnel at the Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital alleged  that many people had complained about paramedics refusing to attend to incidents promptly when called. They alleged  the officials come up with all kinds of reasons not to reach the communities. They said the paramedics often gave various reasons for failing to reach the communities. *Jomo, one of the residents who complained about the paramedics, said in the past, paramedics would complain about lack of fuel but that when fuel was available, they complained about poor roads. “Sometimes people end up dying,” alleged Jomo.

Meanwhile, Tembe also complained about not being attended to promptly, while at the hospital. His wife was concerned that there appeared to be a delay in her husband being checked using an  X-ray  machine to determine any fractures or other  internal injuries. Tembe, who was interviewed from his hospital bed, said he had unbearable pain and felt like he had injured his back, facial area and hands the most. He expressed concern that he was advised that he would be seen by a doctor but 24 hours later he had not been attended to. However, the Director in the Ministry of Health, Dr Velephi Okello said in certain instances, patients may assume that the doctor was delaying yet that was not the case. She said if there was a serious problem of an influx of people, that would have been communicated but it may not have been the case. She added that patients also had the right to approach officials at the hospital such as the matron to express their concern.
*Not real name.

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