Western Cape emergency medical services (EMS) have condemned the use of firearms for protection by some paramedics, it was reported on Monday.
EMS head Cleeve Robertson told the Cape Times that paramedics who used firearms were a dangerous invitation to criminals.
An informal survey by the SA Private Ambulance Emergency Services Association found that some of the country's 100 000 paramedics carried guns on duty.
"It goes against our ethics because we are there to save lives," Robertson said.
"A firearm is no protection whatsoever. In fact, it will attract criminals because they will come for your firearm. In my view, it is definitely looking for trouble." Robertson said the job was a dangerous one and emergency workers were at the complete mercy of society.
If they felt threatened, they had the right to immediately withdraw from that situation, he said.
Warrant Officer November Filander told the newspaper the police were on hand to assist paramedics.
"We cannot foresee when there will be attacks, but we suggest paramedics inform police when they are going to a dangerous area and ask for assistance."