ER24 Base Manager Michelle Saayman has been working in the mining industry for over a decade. Discover what motivates her in a sector dominated by men.

How did you get into Emergency Medical Services (EMS)?

I developed a love for EMS from a young age. I qualified as a basic ambulance assistant while in Grade 11, and shortly after finishing school obtained my Intermediate Life Support (ILS) qualification. But my career took a different path than the usual ILS. Instead of working on an ambulance, I went into Site Based Medical Services (SBMS).

When did you first get involved in Site Based Medical Services?

My first time working in SBMS was when I spent three years at Anglo Gold Ashanti to gain experience working on special projects. At the time, the Branch Manager encouraged me to study in order to broaden my horizons, and I studied project management and various other courses.  He then took me under his wing and taught me skills that I use to this day. He persuaded me to apply for a position at our corporate office. I was eager to put my skills to the test and practice what I have learned. So, I accepted the challenge, applied, and was successful.

What do you enjoy about SBMS?

It’s the focus on teams, and my team and I are a tight-knit group. In fact, my co-workers have become like family. I’ve dedicated the past 12 years to working in SBMS, despite a fair share of challenges.

What drew you to  SBMS?

I felt instantly drawn to this type of EMS practice. It was the difficulties and the need for more complex and interconnected challenges that brought me to SBMS. I joined the SBMS team at ER24 Corporate Office in Sandton and was soon deployed to another mine.

Is it tough being a woman among all the guys?

Testosterone is just a hormone; it depends on how you treat the person behind that hormone! I’m the only woman on the site, but any challenges I’ve faced have nothing to do with being a woman, per se. My challenges are no different from what people face elsewhere, regardless of gender. However, as a woman, I needed to prove that I have what it takes to make it in the industry. I’ve gained respect by sticking to my principles and maintaining my values and integrity.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

A paramedic’s work life is not your standard 9-to-5 with benefits – and this is no different in the SBMS sector. My role has a 24/7 approach, so the key to finding balance is creating boundaries to separate work from personal life. I enjoy painting with friends during my downtime, although this can be sporadic. Even so, I love my position in SBMS and won’t be leaving anytime soon. There are still lots of challenges within our department, so until all the challenges run out, I see myself with the red team for a while.

What is Site Based Medical Services?

SBMS is a service that ER24 offers to various sectors of the industry. It provides customised EMS support to clients at sites around the country. The service delivers integrated healthcare support on working sites in remote locations in South Africa and abroad. SBMS provides a medical assistance infrastructure that ensures:
No time wasted waiting for medical services to arrive | Medical expertise to treat most conditions | Injured staff are assessed, monitored, and reintroduced to the working environment as quickly as possible, keeping client operations running as smoothly as possible.

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