We all know them - the primates in security uniforms posted at the entrances of our public hospitals. Very vigilant-looking characters indeed! Somewhere between REM & GCS 3, slumped over an empty box of KFC or wrapped up in a blanket on a crate outside the security booth. Their employment is to prevent theft and protect the patients & hospital employees. Aah, one feels total reassurance at the mere sight of them!
I cast my mind back to psychology lectures in first year. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. This humanistic psychologist was concerned with the psychological growth and maturity of people. According to him, human action is prompted by needs which may be arranged in a hierarchy. As the more basic needs are satisfied, higher levels of needs which are characteristic of increased degrees of mental health, emerge.
Climbing up my Jacob's Ladder towards self-actualisation, I can count on my "favourite" consultant to almost certainly thwart any attempt to rise above level 4. But that is another story to be awarded an exclusive in a future blog.
An amoeba could fulfil level 1 - the most basic of needs. Sad to think that many South Africans cannot even fulfil this level. Does this render the underprivileged subprotozoan? Although there may not always be enough food to eat or a cholera-free water supply, our population growth proudly announces we are managing to outbreed AIDS. Hence sex (often forceful) does not seem to be in short supply. Thank goodness electricity supply doesn't fall into this category! Although when I first heard load-shedding was to be instituted, I suspected a link with excretion. I was incorrect. However, I have subsequently wanted to "shed my load" on many occasions regarding the issue.
My concerns are with level 2 : Security. Being so low down in the hierarchy, I assume it to be rather fundamental. Well, by the astute selection of security guards we are provided with at our hospitals, I suspect management tends to differ with my assumption. We have had two moderately serious incidents (by SA standards - perhaps regarded as very serious internationally) over the past few months.
The first incident saw an intern stabbed on the premises. Apparently the perpetrator fancied her handbag and decided to do some affirmative shopping, sinking a screwdriver into her back as a heart-felt thank you. Luckily her scapula stopped the tool short of causing injury to a few important structures known to be situated in the human thorax. The fact that she returned to work the very next day is testimony enough to the state of criminal desensitisation we live in.
More recently, gunshots rang out one fine evening in casualties. A patient was being examined for non-fatal peripheral GSW's, when four gangsters burst into his cubicle behind a shower of bullets to finish the job. The intern examining the patient at the time, was hit. Miraculously he suffered only a soft-tissue injury whilst witnessing a murder before his very eyes. He returned to work two days later. Once again - criminally desensitised.
The newspaper article said the criminals "overpowered the security guards before speeding off in a white vehicle". I seriously doubt security made any attempt at stopping the gangsters, that's if they noticed anything at all.
So who's next? Maybe we should be donning bulletproof vests in lieu of white jackets because hospital security is a farce. But then again, this passive approach is in keeping with national policy. In the wise words of our honourable Minister of Safety & Security, Charles Nqakula :
"They [whites] can continue to whinge [about crime] until they are blue in the face, they can continue to be as negative as they want to, or they can simply leave this country."As for Maslow, it seems according to his theories, South Africans' development towards morality and lack of prejudice will remain stifled by a lack of safety.