The two Cape Town paramedics who got caught in an attack on their police escort in Gugulethu this week, previously had guns pointed at them, an EMS spokesperson said on Friday.

“They are not military trained, they are not security personnel, they are just medical health professionals,” Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Robert Daniels said on Friday.

“Quite honestly, EMS people are suffering.”

He said he did not expect to see the two traumatised paramedics at work for a while. This meant residents who needed medical help urgently would be even more vulnerable.

“The poorest of the poor are suffering and this is terrible.”

Last year, both paramedics had a gun pointed at them. The latest incident would likely be a setback for their emotional recovery.

The two fled in fear for their lives when five men tried to steal the firearms of the police officers who accompanied them into Gugulethu on Wednesday night. They had been called to pick up a sick man. A shootout started and a 34-year-old police officer was shot and wounded. One of the would-be thieves was killed, and his alleged accomplice wounded. The two paramedics were unhurt.

In her budget speech in March, Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said 95 EMS staff members were attacked while on duty during the previous financial year.

The EMS has been in extensive talks with senior government officials over the safety of its paramedics, even getting support from the Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi.

But, he warned, unless the societal ills such as crime and poverty are taken care of, the threats to paramedics would remain.