FEATURE – Only when we go where the action is, do we begin to truly understand the work. Rose Heathcote joins the Emergency Medical Services in Cape Town for a day.

Words: Rose Heathcote, who took part in the ride along while she was CEO of Lean Institute Africa.


How many of us don’t fully understand the reality of the front line and are genuinely surprised when we get there and take a closer look, busting the myth that we have it all worked out? Going to where the action is and asking curious questions with respect can cure us of our perceptions and pre-conceived ideas. This is a worthwhile lesson to anyone who seeks to support and change things for the better.

I recently spent the day with the Western Cape Government Emergency Medical Services (EMS), including Mercy in the middle and Babie on her right. These are exceptional women.

I’ve seen paramedics and emergency caregivers on TV – exciting stuff! I watch ER, Grey’s Anatomy, Chicago Med and will openly admit to loving Scrubs. Our EMS friends regale us with stories over weekend barbecues. I thought I had a pretty good handle on what it was all about and I’m happy to report I’m on the road to recovery from my naivety.

Rose Heathcote joins the Emergency Medical Services for a dayWhen I hit the road with the squad, attending to call-outs and witnessing first-hand the real situation, the real people, the real facts and the real challenges they deal with day in and day out, I developed an overwhelming respect for what our emergency care practitioners do for us. Now, when I hear a siren I don’t just nonchalantly look on – I see and feel it differently. That’s the attraction of go see or going to gemba. Your perceptions are altered, your understanding evolves, and you sharpen your skills to support.

Several experiences and observations struck a chord…

Read the full article on Planet Lean.