WHO WE ARE
EVS is a citizen based NPC organization of dedicated emergency services volunteers from all walks of life who selflessly give of their time to help their fellow citizens in times of emergencies and disasters. We are organized into Community Emergency Response Teams in our local areas.
We’re people who care about our communities and what happens around us. We are about intervention. Making a difference and trying to improve the lot of those around us. Our members come from different walks of like – from teachers, to photographers, to paramedics, office workers, students, unemployed people, media and PR and everything in-between. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
We have a very strong focus on empowering citizens and youth in vulnerable communities through emergency service volunteering. We provide an avenue for young people to play a constructive role in society where we help build confidence, commitment, discipline and a sense of pride. We create opportunity for individual growth and development through community service. Service above self.
EVS was born out of the need to empower citizens with the skills, expertise and experience to become helping hands instead of helpless victims. We come from a range of backgrounds, life experiences and communities. Despite these differences we are all bound by a common desire to be able to assist in times of and emergency. Whether it be at the scene of a medical incident, helping to deliver a neighbours baby, dealing with a traumatic vehicle accident we come across, dealing with the victims of gang related shootings, combatting structural fires, assisting with public safety at various events such as the Cape Cycle Tour, assisting various government agencies with wildfire combatting, or helping out in the aftermath of an informal settlement fire where people have lost their homes and all their possessions, or ensuring that we assist with relief supply drops such as the work we’ve done to help vulnerable people during the COVID pandemic.
It all comes down to making sure that our team of dedicated emergency service volunteers are able to effectively help when help is needed.
WHAT WE DO
We are all volunteers. Our community emergency response teams operate in Ocean View, Kommetjie, Masiphumelele, Red Hill, Vrygrond and Mitchels Plain.
We operate and train as first responders because, as citizens, we are often the first at a scene. Whether it be a neighbourhood house fire. A fire in an informal settlement where many of us live. A car accident that happens in front of us whilst we are driving to work or on a car trip somewhere. A neighbour that has a heart attack. A wildfire that either threatens a neighborhood or runs out of control in raging south-easter winds (think Knysna as one extreme but increasingly regular event) – and the evacuations that may need to occur. A beach goer that collapses near us on the beach or whilst swimming. A cyclist that gets hit by a motor vehicle. A child that falls out of a tree and injures themselves seriously. A community hit by COVID where we need a local place to isolate.
Think of the myriad of incidents that happen around us as citizens, whether large or small, and we realise its important for all of us to be equipped, trained and experienced to help and do something because we are usually the first ones on scene before any emergency service arrives.
HOW WE OPERATE
Our members give of their time and enthusiasm when they can. We do event standbys to support our communities and our partner organizations. We respond to call outs during our shift duties. We support the full-time services when called on to do so. We respond to incidents where and when we see them happening. We are willing hands. In all cases, the safety of our members is critical. Safety comes first. Always.
We are a disciplined group of people who understand that it takes a great deal of training, determination and commitment to serve our communities. We conduct ourselves in a professional manner at all times.
Our members are trained so as to ensure that are always in a position to assist no matter where they find themselves. We train every weekend at a time that suits the members in a specific area. This practical, ongoing ‘’on-the-job’’ orientation and training helps to keep everyone on point as far as implementing what they learn in formalized skills courses. This ensures we are up to date with latest developments and that our skills are continually sharpened. These sessions augment our formalised training which can take in the form of on-line learning supplemented by practical’s, formal courses or solely on-line learning. Self-paced online learning is critical in enhancing our members knowledge and we require members to continually update their knowledge by linking to a range of video-based knowledge sharing sessions. We do regular simulations and exercises.
We require members to do 16 hours a month of service – whether this is training, events-based standby’s or operational duty.
We are trained to operate in wilderness areas as Wilderness First Responders, wildland firefighters and wilderness search and rescue members. Many of us live in peri-urban areas either in or on the periphery or urban/wildland interface with the Table Mountain National Park. Wildfires are part of our lives. They often spill over in the adjacent suburbs. This means we have to help fight fires, often house fires, and in severe cases informal settlement fires. We have to help with large scale evacuations as was the case in Scarborough, Simonstown, Gordons Bay and Knysna when wild fires ran into urban areas. Often lost or stranded hikers or mountain climbers need to be found and rescued.
We train as Emergency First Aid Responders with METRO. This is supplemented by specialized training such as Stop the Bleed so that our members living in areas prone to shooting incidents are able to assist whilst Metro or other services make their way to the scene. This also helps us deal with any trauma incident where severe life-threatening bleeding needs to be dealt with.
Our fire teams are trained in marine and structural fire fighting. We train in urban search and rescue. Vehicle extrication.
EVS was started in 2010 by a group of volunteers from Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Kommetjie who saw the need to get local communities more involved in providing support to the full time emergency services. Over the years citizens have seen the need to become more and more involved in looking after themselves as the fulltime services become more under-resourced and thinly stretched. Reaction times are often not what they need to be as our cities and population grows and Government is expected to do more and more with less and less resources.
Around the world, whether it be examples such as THW in Germany or the CFA in Australia, more and more countries are relying on their citizens to step up and be properly trained helping hands during times of crisis. Whether this be providing support in small, routine taskings on a daily basis or longer term interventions such as crew helping out the medical services during an extended COVID relief mission.
Effective citizen involvement is strengthened through partnerships. Partnerships that bring people together to make a difference. Partnerships that help deliver effect results in times of need. Partnerships that strengthen our capabilities when called on in emergencies and disasters that strike.