A strategy to implement and support pre-hospital emergency medical systems in developing, resource-constrained areas of South Africa

Injury. 2014 Jan;45(1):31-8. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.08.015. Epub 2012 Aug 20.


Resource-constrained countries are in extreme need of pre-hospital emergency care systems. However, current popular strategies to provide pre-hospital emergency care are inappropriate for and beyond the means of a resource-constrained country, and so new ones are needed-ones that can both function in an under-developed area's particular context and be done with the area's limited resources. In this study, we used a two-location pilot and consensus approach to develop a strategy to implement and support pre-hospital emergency care in one such developing, resource-constrained area: the Western Cape province of South Africa. Local community members are trained to be emergency first aid responders who can provide immediate, on-scene care until a Transporter can take the patient to the hospital. Management of the system is done through local Community Based Organizations, which can adapt the model to their communities as needed to ensure local appropriateness and feasibility. Within a community, the system is implemented in a graduated manner based on available resources, and is designed to not rely on the whole system being implemented first to provide partial function. The University of Cape Town's Division of Emergency Medicine and the Western Cape's provincial METRO EMS intend to follow this model, along with sharing it with other South African provinces.

Keywords: Developing countries; Emergency responders; Pre-hospital emergency care.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Workers / economics
  • Community Health Workers / education*
  • Community Health Workers / organization & administration
  • Emergency Medical Services* / economics
  • Emergency Medical Services* / organization & administration
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • First Aid* / economics
  • Health Resources / economics
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / economics
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*