If you’ve ever called an ambulance for a loved one, you’ll know all too well how excruciating it is to wait for help to arrive - minutes feel like hours. And, with South Africa’s current response times not where they should be, the wait can also be detrimental to the person in need of assistance.
This is because every second counts in medical emergencies. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, after just five minutes without oxygen, brain cells start to die, and every minute thereafter 10% more die, with complete brain death occurring within 14 minutes. Stroke victims lose the use of two million brain cells every two minutes, and arterial bleeds can result in death in mere minutes.
Warren Myers, CEO of AURA, South Africa’s on-demand security and medical response platform, says that the current response landscape is falling far short of delivering a vital service that all South Africans deserve. The Gauteng Department of Health reports that the current average response time for an ambulance in Gauteng ranges from 30 to 60 minutes, well short of the international standard of seven minutes for life-threatening calls.
To make matters worse, there are a few numbers a person can call in a medical emergency in South Africa, complicating the process for the person who is already under pressure to help someone and help them fast. You can call 10111 or 10177, 112 from any cell phone, and some private health insurance providers have their own medical emergency numbers.
Modern tech can save us
Myers says that current technology has huge potential to improve emergency response times for all and streamline the process of getting help. “With the introduction of smart technology into the emergency response sector, the outdated practice of phoning an ambulance, explaining the nature of the emergency as well as your exact location, and then waiting for the agent to dispatch a vehicle, can be simplified to a single touch of a panic button. The AURA platform does all the hard work for you – pinpointing your location and, using a connected device installed in the response vehicles, ensuring that the closest vetted private ambulance is dispatched to you, saving precious time. Think of it like Uber for ambulances,” explains Myers.
However, good medical outcomes don’t just depend on how fast a patient is attended to, but also on the quality of care received once reached. Doctors refer to the period of time immediately after a traumatic injury as ‘the golden hour’, when prompt medical and surgical treatment is most likely to prevent death. “A person's chances of survival are greatest if they receive high quality care within a short period of time after a severe injury,” shares Bernadette Breton from Alliance International Medical Services (AIMS).
But what if you don’t have medical aid? The good news is that if you are signed up with an AURA network partner, the cost of a private ambulance is covered by the fee you pay through the partner. Those without medical aid can be taken to a state hospital for further care but can at least rest assured that they had prompt care, from trained personnel, using state-of-the-art equipment in those crucial moments after a traumatic incident.
How to access an on-demand emergency response application
“We believe that instant emergency response driven by smart technology like that of applications, and the large network of emergency response providers it connects to can help to eradicate the current inefficiencies in the emergency response system and positively improve the lives of countless patients,” says Myers. So, in your panicked state, instead of googling the nearest ambulance service, searching your phone for a number or trying to find that emergency pamphlet you stuck on your fridge, you could have a simple panic button on your phone to do all that work for you. For more information on how you can get an AURA-powered emergency response service, visit our partner page https://www.aura.services/our-partners/.