Media releases

Winter illnesses and your child: when should you be concerned?

How to distinguish between many winter ailments with the same common symptoms

Monday, June 11 2018

It is winter and along with the cold weather comes the usual bout of childhood illnesses. The season can prove especially challenging for parents of babies and young children who are more vulnerable when it comes to typical winter ailments. With so many of these illnesses sharing common symptoms, it can be hard to determine what illness your child has.

Dr Omolemo Percy Kitchin, a paediatric pulmonologist practising at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital, says understanding the basics when it comes to the different types of common winter ailments can go a long way towards assisting parents in navigating typical winter ailments. These basics include the common signs and symptoms, management, prevention, control and when it is advisable to see a doctor.  

According to Dr Kitchin the most common winter illnesses among children include:

  • Coryza: inflammation of the lining of the nasal cavity, better known as the “common cold’. It is derived from Greek word Ko’ruza, meaning nasal mucus.
  • Influenza: an infectious disease caused by the influenza virus, and is commonly referred to as flu.
  • Allergic rhinitis: inflammation of the nose, sometimes referred to as hay fever.
  • Bronchiolitis: inflammation of the bronchioles (small airways).
  • Asthma: chronic inflammation of the bronchi (larger airways).

One of the key factors that Dr Kitchin highlights is the overuse of antibiotics for the treatment of illnesses. Many parents automatically expect a prescription for antibiotics to treat colds and other viral infections. Not only will antibiotics not have the desired effect, it can have dangerous side effects and adds to the worldwide problem of antibiotic resistance.

“Common colds, influenza and bronchiolitis are caused by viruses and therefore do not require antibiotics to treat them. Parents and caregivers tend to think that an antibiotic will solve the problem. However, antibiotics are only effective in treating bacteria and not viruses.

“Influenza is potentially the most dangerous of the three conditions, specifically when it results in secondary complications such as pneumonia, which if very severe might require admission to the hospital and or the intensive care unit. This is more common in individuals with compromised immune systems. Compromised individuals should have a yearly flu vaccination which should limit the severity of the condition,” Dr Kitchin says.

According to Dr Kitchin, the public often confuses coryza and influenza. “Generally, when people say they have flu, they are actually referring to coryza or the common cold caused by the rhino virus. Symptoms include a sore throat, cough, runny and/or blocked nose, and possibly fever.”

“Influenza has similar symptoms to the common cold, but could also include painful muscles, rigours, a general feeling of being unwell accompanied by a severe lack of energy. Influenza can result in secondary complications such as pneumonia, ear infections and sepsis. Unfortunately, coryza and influenza have to work its way out of the body,” Dr Kitchin adds.

“Children under the age of two are frequently susceptible to bronchiolitis. It presents with a cough, fast breathing, difficulty in breathing, chest in-drawing and fever, and is commonly triggered by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in 90% of cases. Para-influenza and other viruses causing a common cold and influenza, may also be involved,” notes Dr Kitchin.

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever, as it is commonly known, often originates from seasons when there is a lot of pollen in the air. It may also be caused by allergic reactions to other substances.

“Patients present with a cough, especially at night, an itchy and runny nose with clear secretions that can be greenish in colour, watery and itchy eyes, and sometimes swelling of the eyelids. Patients can, in addition, present with dark discolouration under the eyelids,” Dr Kitchin explains.

Asthma may present with a cough that is worse at night, a tight chest and wheezing. Dr Kitchin says, “Approximately 40% of patients with asthma have allergic rhinitis, so these conditions often co-exist and form part of what we refer to as a united airway. Taking a good history of asthma is very important, as the chest is usually clear on examination by a medical practitioner, unless the patient has acute symptoms. Asthma is consequently often missed.”

How are these illnesses managed?

Dr Kitchin explains that a common cold or flu is treated symptomatically with nasal decongestants, fever control, nutritious meals and quality sleep. The virus will work itself out of the system, over time.

“Allergic rhinitis may be treated with nasal cortisone spray and a non-sedating antihistamine. For bronchiolitis, which is firstly treated symptomatically, patients might benefit from admission to hospital and oxygen via a nasal tube if the respiratory distress becomes severe. Asthma should be treated with controller pump inhalation steroids through a spacer in young children, and a reliever in case of emergencies,” he adds.

“Asthma can be well controlled by using inhaled steroids, and hay fever through intranasal steroids,” Dr Kitchin explains.

To limit the risk of bronchiolitis, which cannot be prevented by itself, national guidelines recommend the use of prophylaxis before the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season starts for high-risk patients.

“High-risk children can be defined as premature babies and children with congenital cyanotic heart disease. Such children are born with an abnormally developed heart and blood vessels, resulting in low oxygen supply to the organs,” he says.

There are many simple ways in which you can control the spread of illnesses. “Teaching and implementing regular hand washing routines, ensuring your children receive good nutrition and establishing a healthy environment, will go a long way in preventing illnesses common in winter. Avoiding environmental risk factors and tobacco smoke, ensuring that your child's vaccinations are up to date, and getting a flu shot before the start of the winter season, are also advisable,” concludes Dr Kitchin.



Recommended further reading:

Issued by:            Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Waterfall City Hospital

Contact:              Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster

Telephone:          (011) 469 3016

Email:         ,, or

View More
Midrand schoolgirls are given a glimpse into the world of emergency medical care

Emergency medical service provider are looking to inspire future healthcare professionals

Thursday, May 31 2018

Many young girls dream of a career in healthcare – whether they want to become a doctor, wish to add value to patient care by becoming a nurse or are inspired by the fast-paced career of a paramedic.

On Thursday last week, 10 girls from Noordwyk High School in Midrand were given the opportunity to get a glimpse of that dream, when Netcare 911 participated in the 16th Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work campaign.

The day started with the learners being collected from school in emergency response vehicles. At Netcare 911 headquarters in Midrand they were welcomed by Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911’s director: business development and support services before being given an overview of the operations of the company.

In welcoming the learners, Ramduth said that the company was doing everything it could to empower young South Africans. “At Netcare 911, we offer a range of career choices and opportunities. The field of emergency medical care and healthcare is immensely rewarding and it is relatively easy to find employment as all categories of healthcare skills are highly sought-after.”

“During the course of the day, the learners participated in a comprehensive programme, which included various activities aimed at exposing them to the opportunities available within Netcare 911,” said Ramduth.  

Representatives from several divisions within the company were on hand to provide a brief description about their individual roles and the different job opportunities available within Netcare 911 and the broader Netcare Group. The learners were exposed to different areas of the business such as the emergency operations centre, the Faculty of Emergency Critical Care, finance, human resources, marketing, road operations and fixed wing.

The learners were also afforded the opportunity to have a closer look at a Netcare 911 ambulance with its highly specialised equipment. The girls found the sessions informative and educational and enjoyed being made to feel part of the company for a day. Each participant was awarded a participation certificate and a gift pack as a token of appreciation from Netcare 911 for being part of the programme.

“At Netcare 911, we firmly believe that women are vibrant and dynamic contributors to the economy. We place a high value on the empowerment of women and gender equality in the workplace and we have firm policies in place to develop the skills of women and increase their representation in Netcare 911 so that they can take their rightful place at the forefront of the South African economy,” noted Ramduth. 

“We are looking for learners who show a keen interest in a career in healthcare,” he said. “There is a great shortage of healthcare professionals in South Africa and it is therefore important for us to show any interested young minds just how exciting a career in healthcare can be.”

On Thursday last week, 10 girls from Noordwyk High School in Midrand were given the opportunity to get a glimpse of life as a paramedic, when Netcare 911 participated in the 16th Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work campaign. During the course of the day, the learners participated in a comprehensive programme, which included various activities aimed at exposing them to the opportunities available within Netcare 911,” said Ramduth. Some practical, hands-on learning completed a day well spent at Netcare 911.

“To consider a career in healthcare one should have a passion for people, a willingness to conquer daily challenges and the ability to show compassion to those in need. In order for one to pursue one’s dreams, one has to have love for what one is doing,” concluded Ramduth.


Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Estene Lotriet-Voster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email:,, or


View More
Man who survived impalement on crowbar to do Comrades

Daniel de Wet dedicates his race to trauma surgeon, hospital team and rescue workers

Thursday, May 31 2018

When Daniel de Wet regained consciousness in Netcare Milpark Hospital after a 1.8-metre metal industrial crowbar penetrated his body 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville, he never imagined that he would now be making final preparations for taking part in his first Comrades Marathon since the accident.

“Just three-and-a-half years ago, my wife and colleagues were praying for my survival, and when I was able to walk out of the hospital only 19 days later, we regarded it as a miracle from God. To think that I have now successfully qualified to take on the Comrades Marathon once more is truly remarkable and every day I am so grateful for the recovery I have made,” Mr De Wet says.

Pic: Daniel de Wet and his wife Lizl on day 15 of his 19-day recovery at Netcare Milpark Hospital. Mr De Wet was impaled by a metal industrial crowbar while working at a gold mine near Carletonville, Gauteng.

“Day by day, I have regained my strength and this year I have managed to qualify for the 2018 Comrades Marathon. I am dedicating my run to every single rescue worker, paramedic, firefighter, and especially to Netcare 911, Netcare Milpark Hospital and trauma surgeon Professor Kenneth Boffard.”

“Before my accident in 2015, I ran the Comrades Marathon six times, and during my initial recovery after the accident it seemed to me that I would never be able to take part in this gruelling ultramarathon ever again,” Mr De Wet notes.

On 10 June, however, he will be taking on the challenge of this year’s Comrades Marathon with his running club, the Carleton Harriers, wearing race number 49470.

An unusual injury
One afternoon in January 2015, engineering supervisor Mr De Wet was working on washing out a dam 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville, using an extended crowbar to stir up the mud, when he suddenly slipped. Mr De Wet looked down and, to his utter disbelief, saw that the metal bar had penetrated his body entering his groin area and coming out of his back, just below his shoulder blade.

He recalls how the mine’s rescue team had to carry him perched awkwardly in a sitting position on a stretcher, as the metal bar protruding from his body was almost level with Mr De Wet’s feet, making it impossible for him lie down.

“I was talking the whole time, trying to keep the other guys calm,” he remembers. Having been brought up to surface level at a pace that would ensure that he did not suffer any adverse decompression effects, commonly known as ‘the bends’, he was airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital’s world-class, level-one trauma centre by an experienced team of Netcare 911 paramedics.

When he arrived two surgical teams, led by renowned trauma surgeons, Professor Boffard and Professor Elias Degiannis, were ready to operate: one team concentrating on his injuries in the abdomen and one on those in the chest area.

Once the extended crowbar was pulled completely free of Mr De Wet’s body, the doctors saw that the impalement had caused significant damage, destroying one kidney and damaging his small bowel and numerous blood vessels. Although Mr De Wet lost a kidney, he made rapid progress and was discharged from hospital just 19 days later.

As a token of his appreciation, Mr De Wet presented the 1.8 metre metal rod that was removed from his body as a gift to Professor Boffard and Netcare Milpark Hospital. 

Ready to take on Comrades again
Mr De Wet acknowledges that the ultramarathon will be a challenge. “I think the hardest aspect is when you realize that you are running out of time to complete the race but your legs are so tired but you just need to find the strength to push yourself to make up time.”

“This year the race starts in Pietermaritzburg, and I prefer the ‘down run’, although the Comrades is never a walk in the park,” he says.

“I am fortunate to have an amazing support base, particularly my wife, and there are so many people encouraging me. I have many friends and guys who run with me, and they have helped me through the difficult times.”

Lodox scan images show how the industrial crowbar penetrated Mr De Wet's body, going in between his legs and coming out his back, just below his shoulder blade.

“I will never forget what the Netcare Milpark Hospital team and Professor Boffard did for me in saving my life. I still feel blessed every single day to be alive. I would really like to thank every person who dedicates himself or herself to saving lives and giving people like me a second chance,” he concluded.


Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Milpark Hospital and Netcare 911
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Estene Lotriet-Voster
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:         ,,, or

View More
Intensive care ambulance designed especially for children now operational

Netcare 911’s new paediatric intensive care ambulance proves its worth

Tuesday, May 29 2018

A new Netcare 911 paediatric intensive care ambulance has been specially designed and equipped to safely transport critically ill children who need to be transferred between hospitals to receive specialised care at an appropriate medical facility.

“The Netcare 911 team identified a need for such an ambulance as children have very specific needs,” says Shalen Ramduth, director of business development and support services at Netcare 911, and one of the prime movers behind the introduction of the new vehicle.

Pic: The new Netcare 911 paediatric intensive care ambulance has been specially designed and equipped to safely transport critically ill children who need to be transferred between hospitals to receive specialised care at an appropriate medical facility.

“A great deal of thought went into the design, with every consideration being given to ensuring that we can safely care for our critically ill young charges and that they are comfortable while being transported. The result is a dedicated paediatric intensive care ambulance, which we understand is the first of its kind in the country,” notes Ramduth.

Ramduth explains that Netcare 911 operates a number of intensive care ambulances staffed by paramedics experienced in critical care, for patients whose health is so compromised that they require an intensive care environment while en route between hospitals to, as far as possible, ensure that they remain stable and safe during their transfer.

“These ambulances have highly specialised life support equipment and essentially provide an intensive care environment for patients. Since their introduction a couple of years ago, they have safely transported hundreds of patients between hospitals,” he adds.

“While our standard ICU ambulances can be used to transfer paediatric patients, we wanted to develop an ambulance that was specifically suited to meet the needs and requirements of child patients. The new paediatric intensive care ambulance can therefore also accommodate medical technologies specifically for children.

It can, for example, carry a paediatric corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, for children who require both heart and respiratory support. Provision is also made to incorporate an incubator for babies who may require this form of support.

“The design of the ambulance supports a sterile ICU environment and the vehicle is routinely decontaminated through a rigorous infection prevention programme to maintain this.

“For the comfort of the child over longer distance transfers, the interior of the vehicle has been decorated with familiar cartoon characters and has warmer lighting in order to provide an environment that is as familiar, tranquil and as calming as possible. There is also a fold-down DVD entertainment system, and a bar fridge has been fitted to keep refreshments cool.”

According to Ramduth, the new Netcare 911 paediatric ambulance was commissioned some four weeks ago and has already proved to be an invaluable resource, having been used to safely transport a number of sick young patients requiring intensive care en route.

“The ambulance has been used successfully for transfers from centres not only around Gauteng but also from as far afield as the North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State provinces.

For the comfort of the child over longer distance transfers, the interior of the Netcare 911 paediatric intensive care ambulance has been decorated with cartoon characters and has warmer lighting in order to provide an environment that is as familiar, tranquil and as calming as possible.

The interior of the Netcare 911 paediatric intensive care ambulance accommodates medical technologies specifically for paediatric patients.

Like the other Netcare 911 intensive care ambulances, the paediatric team attending to children during transportation, is specifically trained and has highly specialised skills, to seamlessly transfer critically ill or injured paediatric patients between medical facilities.

“We are using our more experienced advanced life support paramedics for our paediatric team, who, in addition to having undergone special ICU training, are known to work exceptionally well with children. These crews ensure sick and highly vulnerable paediatric patients are in the best possible hands during transfer,” observes Ramduth.

The paediatric ICU ambulance, a modified Volkswagen Crafter, has been fitted with attractive and comfortable racing-car type bucket seats with three-point harnesses. These are used by the critical care paramedics attending to the patient as well as any passengers, such as a parent, who may need to accompany the patient on the journey.

 “The VW Crafter was selected for its long wheelbase and spacious cabin, which gives the paramedic team plenty of room in which to work and space for specialised equipment to be carried if necessary. It offers a high degree of comfort for the patient and critical care team, particularly over longer distance transfers. The vehicle is furthermore reliable and offers excellent road holding characteristics and occupant safety,” says Ramduth.

 “Nothing is more important to Netcare 911 than our vulnerable patients and we have developed units such as paediatric ICU ambulances, to ensure they are provided with quality and safe care,” he concludes.


Issued by:           MNA on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:         ,, or

View More
Burn injury prevention: stop, drop and roll

As winter rapidly approaches, the risk of burn injuries increases.

Tuesday, May 22 2018

For healthcare professionals the winter months are commonly known as “burns season”. It is the time of year when the number of burn related injuries could spike as people increasingly use open fires, paraffin, gas and electric heaters to stay warm.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that over 96% of all fatal fire-related deaths occur in low to middle-income countries, with burns estimated to account for 180 000 deaths globally every year. Annually over a million people in Africa are affected by a burn-related injury, while globally 18% of hospital admissions are as a result of burn injuries.

According to emergency medical services provider, Netcare 911, most burns in South Africa are caused by heat sources such as hot water or fire, and occur mainly in the home and workplace. Children often sustain burns in the kitchen or bathroom, while burns in the workplace are often due to fire, scalding, chemical and electrical burns.

“Children are naturally inquisitive and as soon as they become mobile or start walking, they begin exploring their environment. This could result in them pulling down pots or kettles filled with boiling hot water, touching hot objects such as stovetops or playing with fire, matches or candles,” says David Stanton, head of clinical leadership at Netcare 911. “House fires are often caused by candles or paraffin lamps left unattended and Primus stove explosions. Electrical burns are also seen fairly often.”

“Given the high incidence of burn related injuries it is imperative to ensure that proper safety measures are in place to prevent serious burn injuries.”

“The extent to which a burn will heal often depends on the quality of first aid received immediately after the injury. The most important aspect to keep in mind when faced with a burn injury is to ensure that the affected person is removed from the source of heat and to cool the burnt or scalded area immediately with cool water,” he adds.

Tips to ensure the correct first aid treatment after a burn injury

Stanton says the first, most important rule is to move away from the heat source as soon as possible when a burn happens. “If your clothes have caught fire, follow the golden rule: stop, drop to the ground and roll to try to smother the flames. This rule also applies when you’re helping someone else who is in trouble.”

“Stop the burning process and remove any sources of heat. If the fire is small enough, put out any flames to prevent further contact with the burning material. If a person has been injured by hot liquid or steam, ensure that the person is removed from the source as soon as possible.”

“Before assisting someone else, make sure that it is safe and that you will not be putting your own life in danger,” he notes.

Stanton also suggests caution before using a blanket or rug to extinguish a fire. “Some fabrics and materials, especially the more synthetic ones, may actually make matters worse. Using water in general or a fire extinguisher, particularly in the kitchen, is always first prize.”

“Remove any clothing that might be covering the burn,” he says. “Clothes can retain heat and should be gently removed as soon as possible. However, do not pull off clothing that has stuck to the skin. This may cause skin damage.”

“If you are trying to remove foreign materials from the burn site and find that they are firmly stuck, rather let emergency medical services and medical professionals take care of the situation,” he suggests.

The burning process in the area affected will continue even after the person has been removed from the source of the burn. To stop this, treat the burn immediately with cool, but not ice-cold, water. Depending on the location, size and severity of the injury, hold the affected area under cool running water until it becomes less painful. If larger areas of skin are affected, standing under a cool shower may be useful. “The goal is to reduce the heat as quickly as possible,” he explains.

It can cause damage to the skin if the affected area is immersed in very cold water, ice or if frozen items are placed on it. If an affected area is particularly large, it can also potentially lead to hypothermia and affect blood pressure and circulation.

Do not rely on unfounded advice to apply butter, egg white, toothpaste or any types of lotions to the affected areas. “These substances can be difficult to clean out later and can cause infection. Supporting healing and reducing scarring should always be the overriding aim,” notes Stanton.

Ensure that a sterile dressing is applied, as it will help to relieve the pain, reduce damage to the skin and prevent infection. “In order to keep the sterile dressing on the wound, cover it with a bandage,” he recommends.

However, when applying a dressing, take care not to break the skin and do not attempt to peel any blisters. “In addition, ensure that the wound is not covered by any fluffy, sticky or adhesive materials as this could further damage the area, and could potentially lead to infection,” Stanton emphasises.

When to seek medical assistance
“If the burn injury is severe, causes significant pain and/or is larger than the palm of your hand, visit an emergency department or call an emergency medical services provider such as Netcare 911 on 082 911 for assistance. If the burn becomes infected, you have not had a recent tetanus vaccination, or blisters occur, you should seek medical advice from your doctor or emergency medical services provider,” Stanton concludes.


Burns: what you need to know

Degrees of burns
According to the South African Burns Society, there are three different types of burns:

  • First degree: Red skin, no blisters. Usually heals with little or no scarring.
  • Second degree: Blisters and thickened skin. This can be a burn of either partial or full thickness of the skin, and full thickness burns may require skin grafting for the best healing.
  • Third degree: Overall thickening of the affected skin, with a white colour. This burn is all the way through the skin.

Sources of burn injuries

  • Thermal burns can come from explosions, flame, hot liquids and contact with hot materials like heated glass or coals.
  • Chemical burns are caused by strongly acidic or alkaline substances, and require special care to stop injury to the skin.
  • Electrical burns are caused by electricity, as the name implies, and need to be evaluated by a medical professional even if they look fine, as they can’t be accurately judged just by the external appearance.

Prevention tips in and around the home
Burns can often be prevented. Stanton shares the following tips to ensure safety and prevention is top of mind in the home environment:

  1. Be careful and keep a close eye on babies and children around candles, paraffin lamps, electrical heaters with exposed elements, and open fires.
  2. Use fireplaces, heaters and electric blankets safely.
  3. Be alert to prevent injury from spills when carrying hot drinks and food.
  4. Run cold water first into a bath and add hot water only afterwards.
  5. Keep a close eye on children in the kitchen especially near stoves, kettles, ovens and irons.
  6. Check all electrical outlets to ensure that they are child safe.
  7. Invest in a fire extinguisher for your home and learn how to use it correctly.
  8. Make sure that you store matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  9. Ensure that young children fully understand the dangers of fire and electricity.  
  10. Babies, children and the elderly are especially at risk of burns. Take precautions to help protect them. 

References and further reading
The World Health Organization:
The South African Burns Society:

Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:         ,, or

View More
Paramedic vows to ‘pay it forward’ after life-saving intervention

Walter Molife cannot wait to serve his community again after near-fatal shooting

Monday, April 30 2018

A paramedic who recently suffered a life-threatening gunshot wound will soon be back at work to help save lives once more, thanks to the intervention of his Netcare 911 colleagues, a highly skilled surgeon and the staff of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital.

The last thing 38-year-old Netcare 911 basic life support practitioner, Walter Molife, expected while he was relaxing off duty on Easter Monday, was to wake up in Netcare uMhlanga Hospital several days later having been critically injured in a shooting incident outside his local shisinyama, a food outlet in Pinetown.

Netcare 911 regional operations manager for KwaZulu-Natal, Gary Paul, describes Walter, who will celebrate 11 years of service with Netcare 911 in May, as “an esteemed, dedicated and passionate paramedic”.

Pic: Netcare 911 paramedic Walter Molife at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital shortly before his discharge. Walter says, if not for the doctor and his team he would not be here today.

“Walter loves his work and has helped to save countless lives over the years. He is a gentle, caring man and is a deeply valued friend and colleague to all of us. It came as a shock to the entire team when we heard that Walter, who is well known and a pillar of his community, had been critically injured through a violent criminal act,” he says.

“We found out that Walter had been transported to the closest hospital for emergency care after the near-fatal shooting and that he was not doing well. Walter has been such an asset to emergency medical services in this region, and we wanted to do everything within our power to help one of our own in his time of need.

“When the team and I arrived at the hospital, we found Walter in a critical condition. Due to the nature of his injuries, Walter required advanced life support care including being placed on number of drips and a ventilator. Once he was sufficiently stable, we transported him to Netcare uMhlanga Hospital for the highly specialised care that he so desperately needed,” Paul explains.

At Netcare uMhlanga Hospital, surgeon Dr Mohamed Aslam Noorbhai, who has been practising at the hospital since 2015, was ready and waiting to attend to Walter’s trauma injuries.

“Due to the nature and severity of his injuries, Mr Molife was critical upon admission and his initial prognosis was poor,” Dr Noorbhai says. “He had suffered multiple traumatic injuries and had gunshot wounds both through the left side of his chest and his lower abdomen.”

“His injuries included an open chest wound, a punctured lung, several lacerations to his diaphragm, stomach, pancreas, small intestines and colon, there was approximately two litres of blood in his abdomen, a litre of blood in his chest cavity, as well as an open wound to his abdomen.”

According to Dr Noorbhai, the patient required immediate “damage control” emergency surgery and subsequent procedures, as well as intensive care as part of his initial recovery. “This technique includes the control of all bleeding and contamination in an effort to avoid the ‘lethal triad’: acidosis, hypothermia and coagulopathy.”

The ‘lethal triad’ consists of three dimensions that can compromise the recovery of patients who have sustained severe injuries. The first, acidosis, refers to an excessively acidity of the body fluids or tissues, which prevents the kidneys and lungs from maintaining a healthy pH balance in the body. The second, hypothermia, refers to a potentially fatal reduction in core body temperature, while coagulopathy affects how blood clots, and it is characterised by prolonged and excessive bleeding.

“The emphasis was on trying to reduce the chances of Mr Molife developing multiple-organ dysfunction. During the second operation, the focus was on restoring his anatomy and repairing all remaining wounds,” Dr Noorbhai explains.

“It is noteworthy that the trauma management, at the time of the incident, coincided with a blood shortage. The teams needed to be efficient and effective from the initial treatment of the patient to his discharge from the hospital,” stresses Dr Noorbhai.

Gary Paul, Netcare 911 regional operations manager for KwaZulu-Natal, with Netcare 911 paramedic, Walter Molife. Gary Paul, describes Walter, who will soon celebrate 11 years of service with Netcare 911, as “an esteemed, dedicated and passionate paramedic”.

The team who all contributed to saving paramedic, Walter Molife’s, life with him at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital shortly before his discharge. From left to right are: Dr Aslam Noorbhai, specialist surgeon; Marc Van Heerden, Netcare uMhlanga Hospital general manager; Gary Paul, Netcare 911 regional operations manager for KwaZulu-Natal; Konrad Jones, Netcare 911 rescue officer; Walter Molife, Netcare 911 paramedic; Dewald Schoeman, Netcare 911 operations manager at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital; Heidi Chetty, Netcare uMhlanga Hospital emergency department unit manager; and Dr Selvin Naidoo, specialist anaesthetist.

Walter says that he is especially grateful to Netcare, his Netcare 911 colleagues and Dr Noorbhai for their care and lifesaving intervention. “If not for my colleagues at Netcare 911, the doctor and his team, I would not be here today. It’s a miracle that I am alive; I woke from the grave.”

Once he has made a full recovery, Walter wishes to continue serving his community as a paramedic. “I want to live to be a 150-year-old, and I want to go on and save as many lives as possible,” he said while recovering in hospital.

Dr Noorbhai says Mr Molife was admitted on 2 April and discharged on 20 April 2018. “His current prognosis is excellent. He is now fully mobile and has regained his appetite.”

Marc van Heerden, general manager of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital, confirmed that Walter was discharged from the hospital after nearly three weeks in hospital. “Having worked as an advanced life support paramedic for over 20 years myself, I know that each aspect of the continuum of care is vital to achieving the best possible outcome for a patient,” he adds.

“If it had not been for the prompt response and treatment of Gary and the Netcare 911 team, the clinical management he received in our emergency department’s trauma unit and the amazing work of Dr Noorbhai, Walter may not have been in a position to continue his vocation for saving lives. We are delighted that he has made such excellent progress and that we were able to play a role in his recovery,” Van Heerden concludes.


Issued by:         MNA on behalf of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital and Netcare 911
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email:,, or

View More
Conservation receives a boost with Netcare 911 donation

Second-hand communication devices to assist game rangers in fighting poaching

Monday, April 23 2018

Communication devices that have assisted Netcare 911’s paramedics to deliver lifesaving service to humans will now be put to good use in conservation, after the private emergency medical services provider donated over 100 devices to the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA).

 “The recent death of the last male Northern white rhinoceros is a poignant reminder of the importance of conservation work in preserving Africa’s rich biodiversity,” says Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911’s director: business development and support services.

Pic: (Peter Mills (centre), member for the African Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), accepts a donation of second-hand durable communication devices from Netcare 911 on behalf of the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA). He is pictured Netcare 911’s director: business development and support services, Shalen Ramduth (right) and information officer Klasie Vuyk (left). )

“The devices, including 97 Panasonic Toughbooks, as well as a number of vehicle radios and radio base stations, were replaced recently but were still in good working order. We therefore began looking for a suitable organisation that could benefit from these items, which are specially designed to be durable and serviceable for use in rugged conditions.”

Ramduth explains that GRAA, a registered non-profit organisation, expressed interest in these second-hand devices to support the work of its game rangers in Southern Africa.

“The nature of GRAA’s work means that these devices, which can withstand the elements to an extent and facilitate communication in remote areas, are ideally suited to their needs. We were also delighted at the opportunity to support conservation and contribute to the sustainability of the natural wonders of our country and continent, which in turn promote tourism and job creation.”

Chief executive officer of GRAA, Andrew Campbell, observed that the donation would go a long way towards assisting rangers in their duties of safeguarding Africa’s wildlife.  
“On behalf of the Game Rangers Association of Africa, I would like to thank Netcare 911 for your generous donation of equipment,” Campbell said.  
“By supporting the rangers in Africa, Netcare 911 is directly supporting the protection of our continent’s wildlife. Rangers bravely stand between poachers and increasingly threatened wildlife, selflessly protecting these animals and their habitat from destruction.”

GRAA rangers in South Africa and neighbouring countries will use the equipment, which has a second-hand value of approximately R350 000, in the course of their anti-poaching and conservation duties.

“This richness of flora and fauna assists in attracting tourism, which is an important economic driver for Southern Africa. According to Statistics South Africa’s most recent Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa report, our country’s tourism sector employed 686 596 people in 2016, and directly contributed almost three percent to South Africa’s gross domestic product,” Ramduth notes.

“Netcare 911 strives to make the most of the resources we have and, as an engaged corporate citizen, we are gratified that this equipment will continue to be of service in protecting the natural heritage that we are so blessed to have in this part of the world,” he concluded.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact:              Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney and Meggan Saville
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:, or  


View More
Emergency service leaves nothing to chance this Easter

Emergency service leaves nothing to chance this Easter

Monday, March 26 2018

As South Africans take to the roads to their vacation destinations or to visit family and loved ones over this Easter holiday season, emergency services provider Netcare 911 has announced that it has embarked on a project to upgrade the design of its ambulances ahead of the holiday season in order to further improve the safety of its patients, other road users and its emergency services personnel.

Pic: Emergency services provider Netcare 911 has embarked on a project to upgrade the design of its ambulances ahead of the holiday season in order to further improve the safety of its patients, other road users and its emergency services personnel. Most of the changes to these new vehicles have to do with further improving their visibility on the roads.

“Netcare 911 will once again be mobilising its full complement of personnel and emergency vehicles to assist South Africans around the country in the unfortunate event that they have a medical emergency,” says Shalen Ramduth, director of business development and support services at Netcare 911.

According to Ramduth, most of the changes to the vehicles have to do with improving their visibility on the roads. “Time is of the essence in a medical emergency and it is therefore critical for our ambulances to get to the scene as rapidly as possible. To achieve this safely, other road users need to be aware of, and to give way to, these emergency vehicles. We have consequently added additional warning lights to the vehicles.”

The brand new ambulances, seven of which have already been delivered to Netcare 911, have been fitted with a large protective bull-bar, as well as floodlights that can be used to light an accident or other emergency scene where this may be necessary, especially at night.

“The siren units have been fitted on to the bullbar for maximum audio benefit to road users, so that the ambulance siren can be heard from a distance. Additional LED cluster lights have been added to the bullbar at a 45 degree angle to enhance visibility through intersections.”

Ramduth says that Netcare 911 uses purpose-built Volkswagen T6s to meet its exacting ambulance requirements. “Nothing is left to chance in the design of these vehicles, which are equipped with the latest in emergency medical, navigation and communication technologies.”

“The ambulance has a large cabin area, which gives our emergency services personnel plenty of space in which to care for their patients efficiently and ensures maximum patient comfort during transport. The VW T6 also offers excellent stability, occupant safety, reliability and performance. All of our new vehicles will be developed to the new design specifications,” observes Ramduth.

“We are at all times looking to ensure that the patients in our care are provided with the highest quality and safest emergency medical care. We will, as always, be on high alert over this holiday season. Should you find yourself in a position where people are in need of urgent medical attention please do not hesitate to call us on 082 911,” concludes Ramduth.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact:              Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney and Meggan Saville
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:, or  


View More
Netcare Renews Comrades Sponsorship

Netcare 911 and Netcare remain the official emergency medical services providers to the Comrades Marathon

Thursday, March 22 2018

Netcare 911 and Netcare will remain the official emergency medical services and hospital services providers to the Comrades Marathon for another four years. The leading private healthcare provider group has been supplying their state of the art health services to The Ultimate Human Race since 2004.

In terms of the agreement, Netcare will continue to provide a hospital medical service to all athletes on race day. The referral hospital before halfway will be St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg while St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban will serve as the referral hospital after halfway.

Netcare 911 will provide the pre-hospital medical rescue service to all Comrades participants who require pre-hospital emergency medical attention. Netcare will operate a fleet of vehicles, manned by qualified paramedics and medical personnel available on race day, including:

  • 16 ambulances
  • 5 rapid response cars
  • 4 rapid response motorcycles
  • 1 medical helicopter

A team of medical personnel will also be stationed at the Finish Venue.

Comrades Marathon Association General Manager, Chris Fisher said, “Our association with Netcare is based on strong mutual values that put the runner at the heart of everything we do. We are extremely pleased to announce the continuation of this long and fruitful partnership that the CMA shares with Netcare. We know, that with Netcare, ‘you’re in safe hands.’”

Netcare 911’s Managing Director, Craig Grindell says,   “We look forward to continue partnering with the Comrades Marathon and building on our long-standing relationship. We would like to assure the thousands of runners in this iconic race that their well-being is our priority, in line with Netcare and Netcare 911’s commitment to delivering world-class medical care. Our experienced personnel will be out in full force along the route and at the finish, and our Netcare hospitals will be fully geared to provide further medical care to those who may need it.”

The 2018 Comrades Marathon will start outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 05h30 on Sunday, 10 June 2018 and finish 12 hours later at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.


Statement issued by the Comrades Marathon Association’s Media Officer Delaine Cools on Wednesday, 14 March 2018

For an interview, please contact:

  • CMA General Manager, Chris Fisher on 071 883 6919
  • Netcare’s Head of Business Development Support Services, Ruben Naidoo on 082 470 0828
View More
Stay safe during approaching holidays, Netcare 911 urges road users

Emergency medical services provider ready to assist over busy holiday period

Tuesday, March 20 2018

The first school holidays of the year coupled with an extra-long weekend signals a busy time on South African roads in the weeks ahead, but travellers can be reassured that Netcare 911 is ready to provide emergency medical care where the need arises.

“From our experience in previous years, we know that this is an especially busy time on our roads and this, unfortunately, often leads to an increase in the number of tragic road accidents,” says Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911’s director: business development and support services.

Netcare 911 has bolstered its resources with ambulances, advanced life support response vehicles and emergency care practitioners along the N3 highway between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal during this busy holiday period. It is hoped that in addition to being ready to provide prompt emergency medical and rescue assistance to the public where needed, the high-visibility of the Netcare 911 team will help to keep road safety top-of-mind among road users.

“Every motorist has a role to play in helping to make South Africa’s roads safer over this time by following reasonable safety precautions and displaying courteous driving behaviour. If we all take a few simple measures when travelling, it is possible to reduce the number of accidents and ensure that more people reach their destinations without incident and return safely after their holidays.”

Two major contributors to road accidents are driver fatigue and drunk driving, which are preventable.

“Drivers need to be mentally alert and in good physical condition when embarking on a road trip, and stop at least every two hours for a break to refresh themselves so that they do not become fatigued, which can impair driving ability,” Ramduth advises.

“Drinking and driving is highly irresponsible and we urge the public not to drive while intoxicated or travel with a driver who is under the influence.

“One of the most dangerous things about alcohol is that it can stimulate people to take unnecessary risks without them realising that their judgment and coordination are impaired. Alcohol often creates a sense of confidence, so that people under the influence mistakenly believe that they are fully in control and able to drive.”

Ramduth urges drivers to ensure that their vehicle is roadworthy and equipped with a spare tyre that is in good repair, basic tools, a reflective triangle and first aid kit.

Netcare 911 urges road users to follow these basic safety tips:

  • Always ‘buckle up’: ensure that the driver and passengers are wearing seat belts and children are properly secured in safety seats at all times during a journey.
  • Get adequate quality sleep before setting off on your journey.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before and during the journey.
  • Stop and take a break from driving at least every two hours.
  • If you are feeling tired, stop at a safe place and stretch your legs – wait for at least ten minutes before getting back in the car as you need to ensure that you are properly refreshed – or take a nap if you are still tired.
  • Keep the temperature in your car cool, since a warmer interior encourages sleepiness.
  • Make a point of checking blind spots and ‘reading’ road conditions such as watching out for potholes or a slippery surface in rainy weather, as well as oncoming and rear traffic – do not simply keep your eye on the vehicle ahead of you. Also watch out specifically for pedestrians and cyclists near or on the road.
  • Do not use your cell phone while driving, rather allow your passengers to SMS, tweet and take photographs for you.
  • Ensure a safe following distance of at least three seconds from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Stay calm and extend your following distance between erratic and aggressive drivers.

“The importance of a first aid kit is often overlooked and sometimes the contents of the kits have expired. It is therefore essential to check the contents of your first aid kit regularly and replace any expired or damaged contents,” he adds.

Checklist of items for your first aid kit:

  • Sterile medical gloves
  • Cotton wool
  • A digital thermometer
  • Two medical eye patches
  • Burnshield dressing
  • A variety of bandages and plasters as well as sterile gauze
  • Antiseptic wipes and liquid
  • A space blanket
  • Safety pins, scissors, tweezers
  • Paracetamol tablets and syrup

“Before setting off on your journey, it is advisable to do some research to obtain current information about the route that you are planning to take, including any roadworks or detours you will encounter. Getting lost or disorientated, especially when tired, can cause a driver to become distracted which could lead to an accident.”

Ramduth offers the following advice when reporting an emergency: “Dial 082 911. When the call is answered, begin by stating ‘I have an emergency…’. Give your name and contact number clearly so that we will the means to contact you. Immediately state whether it is a life-threatening situation and be specific about the nature of your emergency. Give your exact location and the physical address or location where the individuals requiring assistance can be found.”

Technology is also making it easier to call for assistance in the case of an emergency, and a partnership between Netcare 911 and mySOS emergency mobile application is helping emergency medical practitioners to pinpoint the location of people requiring their assistance. 

In an emergency, the mySOS app sends an alert to Netcare 911’s national emergency operations centre, and your selected loved ones to show them your GPS location. The app also makes a phone call to Netcare 911, so that assistance is mobilised in the shortest possible time. The mySOS app can be downloaded for free from

“It is always our hope that there will not be any accidents, and that by drawing attention to road safety matters we can contribute to many preventable accidents being avoided. Nonetheless, Netcare 911’s dedicated emergency care practitioners will be on full alert and ready to assist in case of any medical emergency that may arise,” Ramduth concludes.


Issued by:           MNA on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney orMeggan Saville 
Email:         , or 


View More