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[WATCH] Saving lives is no nine-to-five job

Accidents, emergencies and life changing events happen at any time.

That is why Glen Mintern, an Intermediate Life Support (ILS) medic at the ER24 West Metro branch in Cape Town, has decided to volunteer his free time to continue saving lives – even when off duty.

In the spirit of Ubuntu and with the 18th of July being Mandela Day, we spoke to Glen on why he volunteers his free time to work.

“When I started at ER24, I worked my week shifts and on my off days I wasn’t all that busy. I wanted to do more. I joined Community Medics as a volunteer because I wanted to give back some of my own time and out of my own free will. Saving lives is my passion,” said Glen.

Community Medics is a non-profit organisation that operates with approximately 100 volunteer staff.

According to the website, their objective is not to duplicate existing ambulance services, but rather to assist in a limited resource environment, to prevent long delays in emergency care that could have dire consequences.

But even before Glen started his journey as a paramedic, he knew he wanted to save lives.

“When I was younger my mom took me to the fire department for my birthday. Someone who needed help came to the department. I intently watched what they were doing to help this person. Since then I’ve always wanted to do the same. When I started looking for a company to work for, I saw ER24 wherever I went. That is why I chose ER24 and I’ve never regretted it. I love the company and the people,” said Glen.

Glen is so passionate about his profession that he doesn’t consume alcohol. Not even on weekends and not even when he is off duty.

“People always need your help. I make sure that even when I am not on call, or when I am driving home from somewhere, that I can assist at any time,” said Glen.

Glen recalls one specific night.

“My wife and I, after an evening function, came across a man who just had a motorbike accident. I immediately got out of the car to assess the man. My wife, who was in her evening gown, assisted me as best she could. She helped to carry some of my equipment and helped to comfort the person in need.”

His wife Bernice, with whom he has been married to for four years, can attest to his passion for saving lives.

“He doesn’t like being in a situation where he cannot be of help. I also believe that he is destined to help those in need. Nine out of the ten times we drive somewhere we end up in a situation where help is needed.”

She laughs about the measures he has gone to, to ensure that he will always be ready, just in case an emergency occurs.

“I can’t even load groceries into the boot of his car because his medical kits always take most of the space.”

But, says Bernice, “it takes a special type of person to become a medic. Although it can sometimes be a thankless job, I am very proud of him.”

“There are times when Bernice tells me to stop talking about work, but that’s never going to change,” laughs Glen.

And what does he do in the little free time he has left for himself?

“I don’t have a lot of spare time but I enjoy reading and spending time with friends,” said Glen.

Ian Austin, Community Medic trustee, also speaks highly of Glen.

“He is very passionate about every call. It doesn’t matter if it is a high or low priority call. He will always give the same level of care,” said Ian.

“Not everybody can afford the help when it is needed. Not everybody has someone there to help them. I went through a stage of my life where I needed the help and someone stepped in. So, for the rest of my life I am going to be that person for someone else. Whether it is medical or just to sit down and talk. I will be that person,” said Glen.