Media releases

Hospital’s community outreach project to support local hospice patients

Hospital’s community outreach project to support local hospice patients


Monday, January 15 2018

A new year brings with it the promise of fresh beginnings and, for many, it also provides new opportunities to bring about positive change in the lives of others.

It was with this in mind that the management and staff members at Netcare N1 City Hospital in Cape Town set about exploring how they could make a meaningful contribution to the local community through its 2018 community outreach initiatives.

“We wanted our community outreach programme to have maximum positive impact and be sustainable. After much research and planning we consequently elected to support the Tygerberg Hospice, which has played a critical role within our community for many years,” says Ms Marilyn Lameyer, regional radiation therapy manager - Western Cape about Netcare N1 City Hospital’s staff members’ generous contribution towards the project.

The Tygerberg Hospice, situated in Bellville, Cape Town, provides post-acute, rehabilitative as well as end-of-life care to patients including comprehensive assessments, care planning, active therapy and treatment. The vision of the facility is to provide in-patient transitional care that enables patients to regain skills and abilities to support them with daily living after they are discharged.

Lameyer says that Tygerberg Hospice has a strong patient-centric ethos and places a considerable emphasis on patient care. “This echoes Netcare’s core values, with which the hospice shares a number of synergies. Tygerberg Hospice is undertaking wonderful work, and we consider it a most worthy recipient of our support,” he adds.

According to Lameyer, staff members from the hospital visited the hospice prior to the holidays to hand over gifts to the patients and provide them with some festive cheer. She says that the hospital and its staff members will continue to lend support to Tygerberg Hospice in the form of donations, visits, gifts and in any other way it is able to.

“We trust that we will have a long and fruitful relationship with Tygerberg Hospice and hope to assist in providing their staff and management with the support they need to continue the excellent work that they do for their patients and their families,” concludes Dr van Wyk, general manager at Netcare N1 City Hospital who fully supports this project.

Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare N1 City Hospital

Contact:              Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw

Telephone:          (011) 469 3016

Email:        ,, or

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Mandini mum thrilled to take home baby born three months prematurely

Parents and doctors feared for baby Thabisile’s life

Monday, January 15 2018

A mother from Mandini in KwaZulu-Natal is overjoyed to be able to take her baby son home from a North Coast hospital, having feared for her little boy’s life when he was born prematurely late in September last year.

Mom Thabisile Zama Zungu and dad Buhle Mavuso were a picture of happiness as doctors and staff at Netcare Alberlito Hospital gathered to bid farewell to the family, including baby Nkosinathi Mavuso, last Friday.

Nkosinathi was born three months prematurely, weighing just 920 grams. When he was finally discharged from hospital late last week, he weighed a healthy 2,91 kilograms, according to paediatrician, Dr Strini Chetty, who practises at Netcare Alberlito Hospital and treated Nkosinathi.

“As Nkosinathi was born so prematurely and doctors were initially so concerned for his survival, the first few weeks of his life were very stressful for us as a family,” related Thabisile.

“Nkosinathi had to spend a total of three months in hospital, including over the festive season. We are so happy and grateful to finally take our precious boy home for the first very first time,” she added.

Thabisile said she visited her gynaecologist for a routine six-month consultation on 26 September 2017 and did not expect any problems. An ultrasound investigation however revealed that her baby had moved into a position that indicated that the birth was imminent and she was advised to seek urgent medical attention at a local hospital.

“I was in a state of shock and disbelief to hear that I was going to have to deliver my baby so prematurely; I think it was the saddest moment of my life. Nkosinathi was delivered at 20:05, just hours after we had first received the news,” relates Thabisile.

Thabisile says that doctors at the hospital were concerned that her baby had been born too prematurely to survive, and tried to prepare her for the worst.

Nkosinathi, however, proved to be a survivor and two weeks after his birth he was transferred to the Netcare Alberlito Hospital neonatal intensive care unit under the care of the highly experienced Dr Chetty. He visited Thabisile twice before arranging the little boy’s ambulance transfer to Netcare Alberlito Hospital neonatal intensive care unit on 9 October 2017.

“We are most grateful to Dr Chetty and the nursing staff at the neonatal intensive care unit for the passion and care they showed to my son and I, as well as for their ongoing support. I would also like to thank the management team at the hospital for providing me with accommodation at no charge to use as and when I needed to be close to Nkosinathi,” added Thabisile.

According to the hospital’s general manager, Dr Augusta Dorning, the doctors and staff at the facility became very fond of Thabisile and his family while the little boy was cared for at the hospital.

“Thabisile must be one of the smallest babies we have cared for,” observes Dr Dorning. “It was wonderful to see him steadily gather strength, to become the happy bouncing baby he is today, and to reach a point where he was strong enough to be discharged home.

“We are most gratified that we could be of service to this wonderful family and wish them all the very best for the future,” she concludes.


​Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Alberlito Hospital

Contact:              Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, and Pieter Rossouw

Telephone:          (011) 469 3016

Email:         ,,, or

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Joburg man recovering well after suffering a heart attack on holiday

Ballito GP and Netcare 911 paramedics team up for successful resuscitation


Monday, January 15 2018

A Johannesburg man holidaying with his family in the coastal town of Ballito on KwaZulu-Natal’s Dolphin Coast was fortunate that help was at hand to deliver lifesaving care when he suffered a heart attack on New Year’s Day 2018.

Johannes Pieterse, 45, who is now recovering back home, recounts: “On New Year’s Eve, I experienced some chest pain and thought perhaps I had ‘overdone it’ during the festive season. I decided to go for a check-up with Ballito general practitioner, Dr Ryall Hamlyn, and thank goodness I did, or I may not be here today to tell the tale.”

Dr Hamlyn, whose practice is opposite Netcare Alberlito Hospital, says that Mr Pieterse phoned his rooms early on 1 January, asking whether the doctors were consulting on the public holiday and mentioned that he had experienced chest pains the day before.

“When he arrived for the appointment, Mr Pieterse explained that he had angina-like pain for approximately 15 minutes the previous day. Even though he did not have hypertension or unhealthy cholesterol levels, he told me that his father had suffered a stroke at the age of 60, which we consider to be a significant familial risk,” Dr Hamlyn explains.

The doctor performed an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures electrical activity and muscle function of the heart, which did not register any abnormalities. “The patient was still having mild chest pain, and suspecting the likelihood of acute coronary syndrome, I insisted he have blood tested urgently for cardiac enzymes.  I instructed him to go immediately across the road to Netcare Alberlito Hospital’s Ampath Laboratory.

At this point, Mr Pieterse was resting on a couch in the doctors’ waiting room when suddenly he started gasping for air and collapsed. “I checked his pulse, but there was nothing, and he started turning grey. My wife, who is a registered nurse, and I started performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] immediately,” Dr Hamlyn recalls.

“My wife phoned the Netcare 911 national emergency operations centre, however another man who was in waiting room had already run across the road to the Netcare 911 base at the hospital to summon assistance and a paramedic crew immediately responded.”

Netcare 911 intermediate life support paramedic, Donny Govender, and basic life support paramedic, Sundheer Singh, took over CPR while Dr Hamlyn briefed them on the patient’s condition. Seconds later, advanced life support paramedic, Shaun Paul, arrived to attend to the critically ill patient.

“Mr Pieterse was in ventricular fibrillation, which is an often-fatal type of heart rhythm disturbance, and his skin was turning blue because his heart was not able pump and circulate oxygenated blood throughout his body. Fortunately, with early intervention and the aid of a defibrillator, we were able to treat this life-threatening condition,” Paul notes.

Paul administered a therapeutic electrical shock, known as defibrillation, and Singh continued CPR as the defibrillator showed that the patient’s heart was now exhibiting pulseless electrical activity (PEA), meaning that a heart rhythm was present but did not produce a pulse, while Govender administered an intravenous fluid challenge.

“Within minutes, Mr Pieterse’s heart developed a good pulse. We intubated the patient and kept him on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma, however his condition had stabilised and we were able to transport him to hospital for further care,” Paul says.

Mr Pieterse was later diagnosed with an inferior myocardial infarction, meaning that one of the main arteries of the heart had become blocked, resulting in a heart attack.

“I woke up in hospital and a stent was inserted to clear and support the artery that was blocked. I am so grateful to Dr Hamlyn and his wife, the man who ran across the road to call the paramedics, and Netcare 911 for their efforts that certainly saved my life. If not for them, I would probably not have lived to see more than the first day of 2018,” says Pieterse.

Dr Hamlyn says: “Having oxygen and emergency equipment at hand, the prompt intervention, including early goal-directed resuscitation and access to appropriate emergency cardiac care that this patient received certainly played an important role in the positive outcome of this case. Saving Mr Pieterse’s life was a great team effort in which everyone did their part. Had he left my office two minutes earlier, he would have died.”

Paul says the patient’s positive outcome was largely attributable to the streamlined ‘chain of survival’ care that Mr Pieterse benefitted from.

“Chain of survival is a principle of emergency cardiac care that includes early recognition of cardiac arrest, activation of appropriate emergency medical services, immediate CPR and early defibrillation, as well as advanced cardiac life support and in-hospital treatment for post-cardiac arrest care.

“We later visited Mr Pieterse in hospital and were delighted to learn that he would soon be discharged. It was a privilege to be part of the team effort that saved his life,” Paul concluded.

Issued by:           MNA on behalf of Netcare 911

Contact:              Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw

Telephone:        (011) 469 3016

Email:       ,, or

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Drowning a year-round problem with statistics peaking in summer

Do not let a careless moment ruin your year-end vacation

Wednesday, December 13 2017

For South Africans summertime spells fun, sunshine and outdoor activities involving watersport and swimming. However, it can unfortunately also be a time fraught with tragedy for those who are inexperienced, unable to swim and who may for some or other reason be vulnerable to drowning.

David Stanton, head of clinical leadership at Netcare 911, asserts that emergency medical services providers such as Netcare 911 tend to receive more calls related to drowning and water-associated emergency incidents during December and January than any other months.

“Our statistics reveal that the greatest percentage of all drowning incidents during the year occur during the peak holiday periods. This is attributable to the high volumes of tourists, both foreign and local, who flock to the beaches during school holidays and over the festive season.”

Figure 1:
Netcare 911’s seasonal drowning statistics for the period October 2016 to September 2017

Figure 2:
Netcare 911’s provincial drowning statistics for the period October 2016 to September 2017

“Incidents of drowning are also significantly higher in the coastal areas than inland during December and January. Looking at data extracted from Netcare 911 for the period 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017, as much as 62% of all drowning incidents occurred during peak summer months. When reviewing statistics for the entire year, coastal areas reflect 55% of all drowning incidents.”

“KwaZulu-Natal saw the highest percentage of drowning incidents during the 12-month period, quite possibly because of the warm weather enjoyed all year round in the province and the fact that holiday makers, often from inland, flock to the coastal regions throughout the year. It is however disconcerting to note that Gauteng is in a close, second position reflecting 31.37% of all drownings,” notes Stanton.

Safety at the beach - tips from Netcare 911

  • Be absolutely vigilant where small children and older individuals are concerned. Keep a watchful eye on children at all times when around water.
  • Swim at beaches where lifeguards are on duty and keep to the specifically demarcated areas designated for safe swimming. For your own safety swim in the areas closest to the lifeguards.
  • Be mindful of warning signs that may indicate dangerous swimming conditions such as strong currents, sharks and other dangerous sea life as well as contaminated water.
  • Please remember that swimming in the ocean, where there is wave action and at times dangerous currents and sea life, is very different from swimming in a pool.
  • Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear life jackets or swimming aids to ensure their safety.
  • Be careful not to dive into water where you cannot see the bottom. It is particularly dangerous to dive into the water headfirst as you could very easily injure your neck.
  • Check the weather report before going to the beach. Be careful of lightening in particular and do not enter the water until at least 30 minutes after the thunder and lightening has stopped.
  • Steer clear of the ocean if you notice a choppy current with murky water.
  • If you get pulled out to sea, stay calm and save your energy. Allow the current to carry you for a while and then swim parallel to the shore until such time as you are out of the current. If you cannot swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are safe from the rip current.
  • Do not be ashamed to call for help if you are in trouble. Anyone, even the best swimmers, can run into difficulties at some or other time. It is important to signal for a lifeguard as soon as possible. The best way to do so when swimming in the ocean is to raise your arm as far out of the water as you can and to wave it around. The lifeguards will be with you as soon as they can. In the interim, stay calm and try to tread water, or if possible float on your back, until they reach you.
  • Be mindful of the waves as they are great deal more powerful than you may think. Pay close attention to children and elderly people especially, as wave action can easily result in a loss of footing, even in shallow water.
  • Stay sober at the beach as alcohol will not only impair your judgement, making you less careful, but it will also dehydrate you.
  • Use sunscreen, wear a hat, use an umbrella or a tent for shade and cover yourself up during the hottest time of day, which is generally between 10h00 and 16h00. 
  • Do not make use of a floatation device such as an inflatable bed, boat, noodle and other items unless you can swim properly. If you do go boating ensure that the boat is safe and that you are wearing a lifejacket. Don’t go out so sea unless you have checked the weather conditions.
  • When fishing be careful of walking on slippery rocks in case you lose your footing. Also be mindful of changing tides and rough seas that can knock you off the rocks.

“In any emergency situation the most important thing to do is contact the correct emergency number immediately. Try and memorise the number for emergency services in your area and keep the number saved on your cell phone and close to your landline telephone. In many cases, during the panic of a medical emergency, people cannot remember the correct number or cannot find where they have written it down. Contact Netcare 911 on the national number: 082 911,” he notes.

What to do in the event of drowning

  • Get the victim out of the water as soon as possible, but do not become a victim yourself. Make sure it is safe for you to enter the water first.
  • Handle the victim with care. Many submersion incidents are associated with neck injuries, so keep movement to the back and neck to a minimum.
  • Assess to see if the victim is awake by asking, “Hello can you hear me?”
  • Check for breathing by looking at the chest for no longer than 10 seconds. If the victim is not breathing or not breathing normally (i.e. gasping), call for immediate medical assistance.
  • Call, or have someone call, a recognised medical emergency service provider such as Netcare 911 on 082 911 as soon as possible. Whoever calls for the ambulance must give the dispatcher an accurate location of the incident and a contact number at the scene. Never hang up on the operator and always return to the rescuer to inform them that you have called for help.
  • If the victim is not breathing, immediately start CPR, beginning with chest compressions.  Keep doing CPR at a ratio of 30 chest compressions, and then 2 breaths. 
  • CPR is vital, even if it is an amateur administering it. Keep on doing it until someone who is trained in advanced life support arrives and can take over.
  • All parents should learn how to administer child CPR as it differs from adult CPR. All people can benefit from CPR training – it is not a difficult skill to learn.

According to Stanton, having multiple layers of safety such as a certified safety net, a fence with locked gate, a child-minder and a surface alarm around the pool and spa areas at home or around other open bodies of water can prevent accidents and drowning.

“A basic course in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can make a dramatic difference in the outcome should the skills be applied timeously,” asserts Stanton.

For further information on CPR courses contact the Netcare 911 Faculty of Emergency and Critical Care on 010 209 8911 or visit the Netcare 911 website.


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

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Gated communities can cause emergency workers unnecessary delays

Residential estates encouraged to enable access to paramedics

Tuesday, December 5 2017

Homes situated within residential estates have become a more and more popular option across South Africa. There are, however, some emergency situations when heavily guarded access points to these communities can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Shalen Ramduth, director: business development and support services at emergency medical services provider Netcare 911, says that emergency medical teams do sometimes experience delays at the gates of a residential complex, gated community or business park when security guards insist on being provided with full credentials before they will grant them access.

“While these kinds of tight security procedures are quite understandable and have been put in place to protect residents, time is always of the essence in emergency situations and holdups of this nature can potentially have serious consequences for the patient,” he notes.

Review your access controls
“Netcare 911 consequently strongly recommends that homeowners’ associations and body corporates consider and review their access controls to cater for the possibility of such emergency situations,” advises Ramduth.

“Estates, complexes, gated communities and office parks should put a comprehensive set of protocols in place to enable legitimate emergency services providers such as Netcare 911 easy access in the event of a medical emergency.”

Ramduth says that Netcare 911 is one best known emergency medical services providers in the country, so it is therefore extremely rare for the well branded and equipped Netcare 911 emergency vehicles and ambulances to be prevented or delayed in accessing secured premises.

“A few years ago, however, I personally experienced this kind of situation,” relates the Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedic. “It was extremely frustrating for us as the emergency team, particularly as we knew that a resident of an estate had depended on our urgent assistance for severe chest pain.

“The guards nevertheless insisted that we first prove our identity and tried to contact the homeowner to obtain permission for us to enter. They argued that they were ‘only doing their job’, which of course was the case, but their actions potentially placed a patient at risk.”

Speak to your security company
Ramduth says that once your gated community or complex has established a set of access protocols for emergency services providers, it must take care to effectively relate these protocols to their security company.

“Security staff must be properly trained to know when it is necessary to grant access to an emergency services provider. If guards have concerns about the legitimacy of an ambulance or emergency vehicle, one of them could be asked to accompany the vehicle, rather than delay it at the entrance to an estate,” he advises.

“Security staff should always be adequately trained and be provided with a comprehensive list of emergency contact numbers. They can also be informed that the Netcare 911 national emergency operations centre number can be contacted at any time on 082 911 in the event of a medical emergency,” notes Ramduth.

Helping to facilitate rapid response times
Is there anything the caller or patient themselves can do to enable a quicker paramedic response time? Ramduth says that, if possible, the caller should contact their security company or gate security personnel in order to facilitate immediate access for an ambulance or other emergency response vehicle.

He recommends that residents of residential estates with a medical emergency who require assistance call the Netcare 911 emergency operations centre and do as follows:

  • Give your name and the telephone number you are calling from to the call taker.
  • Provide a brief description of the emergency and circumstances.
  • Be sure to provide the correct address or location of the incident to assist paramedics to get to the scene.
  • Contact, or get someone else to contact, your security company to ensure paramedics are able to access your complex easily.
  • Stay on the line with the call centre operator and listen carefully to their questions and guidance.

“With a bit of advance planning by both the individual and the community, potential delays can be avoided and the best possible outcomes achieved for patients in an emergency situation,” concludes Ramduth.


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

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Electrician lucky to be alive following severe electric shock

Good Samaritan, two more shocks, and continuum of care save KZN father

Monday, December 4 2017

Twenty-six-year-old electrician Lungani Mbatha is living proof of the critical importance of the continuum of care, also known as the ‘chain of survival’.

Mr Mbatha was working on a construction site near Durban when an unexpected disaster struck. “I have never had a serious electrical shock before, and I can’t remember much of what happened. All I know is that we were busy connecting wires, I shouted out and I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in Netcare uMhlanga Hospital,” he says.

Pic: Marc van Heerden, general manager of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital who worked as an advanced life support paramedic for over 20 years, says that excellent communication between the Netcare 911 paramedics and the hospital's emergency department played a significant role in Mr Mbatha’s recovery. Pictured with him are (back) advanced life support paramedic, Shaun Paul,  and intermediate life support paramedics, Isaac Pillay and Collin Krishnalall. 

According to Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedic, Shaun Paul, Mr Mbatha owes his life to the streamlined emergency medical care he received, starting with a Good Samaritan who recognised that Mr Mbatha was not breathing and did not have a pulse after he collapsed from the shock then immediately initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), as well as the early activation of emergency medical services (EMS) to attend to Mr Mbatha.

‘Chain of survival’ is a principle of emergency cardiac care, which includes early recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of appropriate EMS, including commencing CPR as soon as possible, early defibrillation, as well as advanced cardiac life support and in-hospital treatment for post-cardiac arrest care.

“The chain of survival certainly made all the difference in this patient’s survival. The early intervention of the bystander, who initiated CPR before paramedics arrived, probably made the difference between life and death for Mr Mbatha. If the Good Samaritan had not started CPR, it is probable that the patient’s heart would not have been in a rhythm that was responsive to treatment,” Paul says.

Physician, Dr Nitin Ghila, who later received and provided treatment to Mr Mbatha in the emergency department of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital, explains that the electrical shock caused ventricular fibrillation, a severe disruption of the heart muscles’ natural electrical impulses that control the heartbeat. This resulted in cardiac arrest, as his heart was unable to pump vital oxygenated blood through the body.  

Paul, as well as intermediate life support paramedics, Isaac Pillay and Collin Krishnalall, arrived on the scene three minutes after receiving the call, to find a crowd of anxious on-lookers surrounding Mr Mbatha and the man performing CPR on him. The paramedics immediately took over the resuscitation efforts.

“Using a manual defibrillator, we administered one electric shock and then continued performing chest compressions and ventilations. We had to administer another dose of electric current with the manual defibrillator at a higher setting, and managed to get a pulse,” Paul says.

He commended Pillay and Krishnalall for the level of co-operation between them in delivering life-saving care. “Their actions were synchronised, and they remained focused on establishing a pulse,” Paul adds.

“The patient started to regain consciousness and was rather disoriented, which is not uncommon following resuscitation after a cardiac arrest. His breathing was, however, still laboured and we had to put him in a medically induced coma and intubate him to ensure he was well oxygenated and his airway was maintained prior the journey to hospital.”

Given the nature of Mr Mbatha’s condition, the Netcare 911 team decided that the emergency department at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital was the most appropriate facility to provide him with definitive treatment.  

“Netcare uMhlanga Hospital was deemed appropriate as it has the relevant cardiac expertise to assist a patient with such a medical condition, and we alerted the hospital that we were on our way. The handover was streamlined, and the trauma team knew exactly what to do, so that care could continue seamlessly,” Paul observes.

Dr Ghila recalls that when Mr Mbatha arrived at the hospital, he was on a ventilator and restless but stable. “The pre-hospital care he received was exceptional, and this is of the utmost importance in a medical emergency,” he notes.

“The paramedics and the bystander who initiated CPR certainly helped to save Mr Mbatha’s life. In any resuscitation, time is of the essence, and Mr Mbatha was fortunate that someone was on hand to recognise that he needed CPR and perform it until Netcare 911 arrived to provide definitive treatment.

“Fortunately, we found that the patient sustained no serious burns or fractures in the accident. We have been closely monitoring his heart and he has done very well so far. Mr Mbatha was soon transferred from an intensive care unit to a general ward, and has since been discharged home.”

The general manager of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital, Marc van Heerden, recognises the importance of an efficient ‘chain of survival’ for patients faced with an emergency cardiac event.

“Having worked as an advanced life support paramedic for over 20 years, I know that each aspect of the continuum of care is vital to achieving the best possible outcome for a patient. The high level of expertise and excellent communication between the paramedics and our emergency department certainly played a significant role in Mr Mbatha’s recovery,” Van Heerden observes.

Pic: Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedic, Shaun Paul, and intermediate life support paramedics, Isaac Pillay and Collin Krishnalall, attended to Mr Lungani Mbatha, an electrician who suffered cardiac arrest after a severe electric shock. 

Mr Mbatha expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped him in his time of need. “I am so thankful to be here today. To the person who made the call to Netcare 911 and to the man who gave me CPR, I do not remember any of this, but I am told that they helped to keep me alive so I would like to say thank you very, very much. I am so grateful to the paramedics, doctors and nurses, and I would also like to thank Netcare for all the support they have showed me,” Mr Mbatha concluded.  


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


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Hero award for boy who rescued his twin

Netcare 911 praises 11-year-old Luke for saving brother’s life

Thursday, November 9 2017

Very few 11-year-olds can say that they have saved a person’s life. Without the bravery and presence of mind of young Luke Bridle of Johannesburg, his twin brother David may not have survived his recent near-drowning experience.

“It is very rare to come across a child with the ability to act quickly and sensibly under such stressful and frightening circumstances,” says Craig Grindell, managing director of Netcare 911. “We were so impressed at how Luke helped to save his twin brother’s life that we decided to award him a special Netcare 911 bravery certificate.”

Photo:" Eleven-year-old Luke Bridle has been presented with a bravery certificate from Netcare 911 for helping to save his twin brother’s life. Netcare 911’s regional operations manager: Gauteng South West, Neill Visser (left), and Netcare 911 head of stakeholder relations, Carl de Montille (right), recently presented the certificate to Luke at his school, the Polly Shorts Academy in Weltevredenpark." 

According to the boys’ mother, Shandré Bridle, one afternoon in early September the twins were at home with their child minder who was giving David a bath.

“Our son David is disabled, and is also an epileptic. He and Luke have an extremely special bond and from a young age Luke has learned how he can help David when needed. My husband Brian was travelling at the time and I was driving home when I received a phone call that nearly made my heart stop,” she recalls.

The boys’ child minder had stepped out of the bathroom to fetch a towel when David suddenly had an epileptic seizure in the bathtub.

“His face went under the water and his body went rigid during the seizure, he fell forward and he was drowning in the bath. Thankfully, Luke immediately jumped into the bath to try to get David’s head out of the water. Our child minder came running in but it was very difficult for her and Luke to lift David out of the bath because of the seizure. It frightens me to think of it, but David could have drowned,” Shandré says.

The boys’ father, Brian, explains that, in a flash, Luke pulled the bath plug so that the water could drain out of the bath, however there was still concern that David could have breathed in water during the seizure. “Together the child minder and Luke managed to get him out of the bath and lay him over the woman’s knee so that the water could drain from his mouth. Luke helped to pummel his brother’s back to help expel any remaining fluid from his lungs.”

Luke pressed a panic button to alert the security company, then phoned their mother, who has first aid training, and over the phone she talked him through all the steps of how to check whether his twin was breathing and place him in the recovery position until emergency medical services provider Netcare 911 arrived.

The plucky Luke kept a cool head during the ordeal, and having established that his brother was breathing, did his best to keep David calm by talking to him and reassuring him until the paramedics arrived.

Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedic, Adrian King, who attended to the emergency says he was incredibly impressed at the way in which such a young child had responded to such an emergency situation.

“When we got there, Luke had placed his brother in the proper recovery position and kept checking that he was breathing. He did everything that should have been done, it was truly remarkable for a child of his age.”

King says that even when the paramedics were attending to David, Luke kept a watchful eye on his brother. “You could see he was very concerned. He kept asking if his brother was all right and we reassured him over and over again but he still kept asking ‘Have you checked he is breathing?’ It was very touching to see how devoted he is to his brother, and all his actions demonstrated the close bond they have.”

Fortunately, David made a full recovery after being admitted to Netcare Olivedale Hospital.

Luke was recently presented with a special bravery award from Netcare 911 at the boys’ school, the Polly Shorts Academy in Weltevreden Park. He and David both received Netcare 911 toy ambulance sets as a reminder of the heroic act of brotherly love.


Proud parents Brian and Shandré Bridle with their twin boys, Luke and David. Luke received a special Netcare 911 Hero Award from regional operations manager: Gauteng South West, Neill Visser (left), and Netcare 911 head of stakeholder relations, Carl de Montille (far right), for his bravery in saving his brother David (front) from drowning when he had an epileptic seizure in the bath.

“This little lifesaver is an exemplary example of the importance of keeping a cool head in an emergency situation, as this is the best way to assist someone in their time of need. This is easier said than done, but Netcare 911 is always on hand to offer emergency medical care and guidance in a crisis such as the one these twins faced so bravely,” Grindell concluded.


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

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Do you know what to do if your child is choking

Familiarising yourself with what actions to take could be lifesaving

Thursday, November 9 2017

While choking in children is not something you can necessarily prevent, knowing what action to take during a choking incident could save a life.

This is according to Dr Hennie Smit, who recently attended to two-year-old Reuben Botha who was rushed to the emergency department at Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital after an object became lodged in his throat. “Fortunately for Reuben we were able to remove the object. He was then intubated and after two days he was discharged without having suffered any complications as a result of the choking. 

Photo: "Relieved parents Doret and Rian Botha taking their son Reuben home from Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital after his lifesaving treatment."

“Witnessing a child choking can be very distressing, causing many parents or caregivers to panic and in some instances completely freeze up if they don’t know what to do. That is why it is always a good idea to familiarise yourself with what actions to take should you be present during a choking incident.”

When advising on what to do when a young child is choking, David Stanton, Head: Clinical Leadership at Netcare 911, emphasises the importance of keeping calm and acting quickly. “Speed is of the essence in any choking situation. Being able to dislodge a blockage quickly greatly minimises the risk of further complications. However, never try to remove a foreign object unless you can actually see it, as you can run the risk of pushing it further into the airway.

“Depending on their age, the child may not be able to communicate that they are choking. Therefore, as soon as you notice a baby or younger child is unable to cry, cough or talk, it is likely that something is blocking their airway. They may even turn bright red or blue. It is important to keep calm and think rationally about what you will need to do to best assist the child,” he says.

Below is Netcare 911’s guide to assisting a child or baby that may be choking:

“Remember, it is essential that emergency medical services are summoned as soon as possible when someone is choking because if these steps do not work, choking can very quickly result in the person losing consciousness and suffocating. The sooner paramedics are called, the sooner they will arrive on scene and the greater the chance of a positive outcome,” notes Stanton.
What to do if a child is choking:

  • Firstly, try to encourage them to cough. Often the child will forget to try this, and forceful coughing may successfully expel the object
  • If this doesn’t work, do the Heimlich manoeuvre:
    • Stand or kneel behind the child.
    • Wrap your arms around them, and make a fist with one hand. Place your fist against the stomach, just above the belly button.
    • Place your other hand over your fist. Position your body up against the child.
    • Give a series of five hard forceful squeezes. You are trying to force the air out of the child, in an attempt to dislodge the object.
    • Check in the mouth to see if you can see the object.  If you can see it, pull it out.
  • If the thrusts don’t work, then do a series of back blows:
    • Have the child positioned with the head as low as possible.
    • Hit the child forcefully between the shoulder blades.  Repeat this five times. Keep repeating Heimlich thrusts and back blows until the object is released or check if you can see the object to pull it out.

What to do if a baby is choking:

  • Lay the infant face down along your arm, with the head lower than the rest of the body.
  • Give five hard slaps on the baby’s back. You should do this with the intention of shaking the object loose, so don’t be too gentle.
  • If the object doesn’t come out, turn the baby on his/her back. While supporting the entire baby, place two fingers on the middle of the chest.  Give up to five hard chest thrusts.
  • Keep repeating black slaps and chest thrusts until the object comes out, or keep checking in the mouth to see if you can see the object.  If you can see it, pull it out.

If the object does not come out in the first few seconds, Stanton says it is essential to call for professional help. “If at any time, the baby or child becomes unresponsive, place them gently onto the floor.  Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). When giving breaths, take a moment to look in the mouth and see if you can see the object, and remove it if possible.  You will need to continue CPR until help arrives, ” he concludes.

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

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What to do in the event of a road accident

Emergency medical service provider offers helpful tips on how to save a life

Wednesday, July 26 2017

Road accidents are an unfortunate part of everyday life. Although most accidents happen in busy areas and on highways, there are some that may take place “off the beaten track”. This may well mean that the first person on the scene may not be a paramedic, but a regular road user just like you.

“Every motorist has a role to play in making South Africa’s roads safer and even though you can contribute greatly by following reasonable safety precautions and courteous driving behaviour, accidents do happen and it is important to be prepared for them,” says David Stanton, head of clinical leadership of Netcare 911.

“If you do come across a road accident, you may be able to make the difference between life and death to those involved. Remember, in an emergency, even the smallest action can make all the difference,” he adds.

What to do when you come across a road accident:

  • The very first thing you have to do is to ensure your own safety. Is it safe for you to be around the accident scene? Your safety is first priority and you cannot help anyone if you are injured or compromised in any way.
  • Stop in a safe place, with your hazard lights on and put a warning triangle at a fair distance back from the scene to alert motorists to the possible danger ahead. This will give them enough time to slow down safely.
  • Look around the scene for any possible hazards. These may include petrol or diesel leaks, fire, oncoming traffic, dangerous animals or hostile bystanders.
  • Assess the scene and see if there are any injuries. If there are, make sure that you phone for help by dialling 082 911 immediately. Remember to give the call taker your number in case the call gets cut off.
  • When you call for help, make sure you have the location of the incident handy. If you are unsure of the exact location, the nearest intersection or large landmark would also be helpful.
  • If possible provide the call taker with a brief description of the accident scene, the number of injured patients and the nature of their injuries.
  • Do not move an injured person unless absolutely necessary as you may cause further injury, especially if the person has suffered spinal injuries. Rather try to keep injured people calm by talking to them and reassuring them that help is on the way.
  • If there are any patients who are bleeding heavily, try to stop the bleeding by compressing the wound with a clean towel or piece of clothing.

“There are also a few other things that you should keep in mind in order to prevent further harm to yourself or to those involved,” says Stanton.

What not to do when you come across a road accident:

  • Never touch an open wound or any bodily fluids of another person if you do not have the necessary protective gear such as gloves, face masks and eye goggles.
  • If a patient has a foreign object impaled anywhere in their bodies, do not remove it unless absolutely necessary as you may cause further harm by removing the object. Wait for emergency medical services to arrive and assist where required.


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

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The dangers of taking selfies while driving

Drivers are putting lives at risk taking photos or videos of themselves while driving

Monday, July 10 2017

As social media updates continue to draw in and keep people of all ages glued to their mobile devices, it is the growing trend of taking so-called selfies while driving that poses a very real risk to motorists and other road users.

“The popular #drivingtowork and #drivinghome hashtags that many use to post pictures of themselves on social media whilst driving may seem harmless enough, however just taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds can potentially end in tragedy. The reality is that the busier the road is, the more unpredictable the circumstances become, making snapping a photo or video in peak times particularly dangerous.

“Even though most of us have heeded the warning of not texting whilst driving and opted to invest in hands-free devices, the same is not true of the current selfie-while-driving trend that has become very popular.

“People engaging in this type of social media activity need to realise that they are not just endangering their own lives but those of other motorists and road users, including pedestrians,” warns Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.

And while the number of accidents resulting from selfie-related behaviour are often difficult to determine, largely due to people not owning up to driving negligently, deaths via selfie continue to increase every year. According to MIT Technology Review, the results of data scientists tracking the rise of selfie deaths across the globe indicate that 73 people died while taking selfies in the first eight months of 2016 alone.

“Recent figures indicate that approximately 1 120 more people died on South African roads in 2016 than in 2015, making it the highest annual road death toll since 2007. And if you just look around at how many people are on their phones, particularly when stuck in slow moving traffic, often taking photos of themselves or of other cars or incidents on the road, it’s easy to understand how so many car accidents happen.

“Driving is one of those tasks that demands your full attention. Countless deaths every year are attributed to distracted driving, evidence that taking your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road for just a few seconds is more dangerous than many people realise,” she emphasises.

“Ultimately we want to make drivers aware that talking, texting, checking social media and selfie posts while driving are adding to the already high road accident statistics on South African roads. This begs the question as to whether posting a picture is actually worth risking human lives,” concludes Toubkin.

So what can be done to discourage snapping selfies while behind the wheel? Here are some ways to minimise selfie-related road accidents.

  1. Educate drivers, particularly the younger generation who tend to use social media platforms most, as to the dangers of being distracted and particularly of taking selfies while driving.
  2. Investigate possible distracted driver apps that will assist you in preventing the urge to check and use your phone while driving.
  3. Be vigilant on the road. Take note of, and try and steer clear of, drivers that are on their phones.
  4. Be vocal and warn contacts and friends of the dangers if you should notice a selfie post of them whilst driving.
  5. Don’t post positive or encouraging feedback when you receive selfie pictures from friends. Many thrill seekers thrive on the attention they receive, and will go on to repeat their dangerous selfie stunts, often at a high safety cost to themselves and other road users.


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

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