A dampened Autumn sun withdrew behind a cluster of clouds in the Pietermaritzburg morning sky.

The car’s infotainment system read March 6, 2021. It was 9am. Mi7 National Group manager Damian Venter pulled closed the door of his recently polished Ford Mustang and turned on the ignition, awakening the engine.

As he inched toward the gate, he peaked into the rear view mirror to count the 17 vehicles lined behind him. As he drove out, they followed in convoy.

This was a moment engrained into the memory of all Mi7 team members present on the day: it marked the first time the wheels of Mi7 Armed Response and Emergency Medical Services vehicles
touched the tarmac, on official duty, outside the company’s headquarters in Mkondeni.

The procession followed the R103 until it reached the Ashburton Pick n Pay, where Mi7 National Group’s teams, vehicles, equipment and technology would for the first time be displayed to the public.

The community turnout was overwhelming: little ones hopping behind the steering wheels of their favourite vehicles, yanking from left to right while imitating engine noises; mothers explaining the many security threats they encounter in their neighbourhoods; and fathers curiously inspecting the technological equipment at the company’s disposal.

It was then that Mi7 National Group managers realised that no ordinary service would suffice. For the company, this meant translating twenty years of lessons learnt in corporate guarding, VIP protection, priority escorts and strike control into a community-orientated, holistic security strategy that would equally cover those who could afford it as well as those who could not.

The company’s goal was therefore to provide a tripartite approach based on three pillars: security, medical response, and wellness. This builds towards a vision of a community which can walk the streets of their neighbourhood without fear and sleep peacefully knowing they are safe in their homes; a vision of a community which can access critical medical care when their lives depend on it; and a vision of a community in good overall health, engaging in recreational activities together at local parks and communal spaces.

Mi7 National Group has spent the year striving to make this vision a reality.

The Emergency Medical Services division started with two ambulances and a small crew of dedicated paramedics. They were mandated to respond to each and every emergency which came through
their telephone line, from motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, hospital transfers, and medical call outs. While a nominal fee is charged for their service, clients without medical aids could pay as little as R70 per month for access to 24-hour medical assistance

Our goals are based on a community orientated, holistic security strategy that uses a tripartite approach based on three pillars: security, medical response and wellness.

So dedicated to their communities are the division’s medics that they oftentimes went beyond the call of duty to treat and transport injured pets to veterinary clinics. Their efforts did not go unnoticed. The demand for Mi7 National Group’s Emergency Medical Services has grown substantially – the division has quickly become a trusted service provider based on principles of care and compassion. Now, the size of the division has doubled, with more specialised ambulances and rapid medical response vehicles.

An exciting addition to the division has been that of a rescue crew. Mi7 medical rescue vehicles are equipped with state-of-the-art Specialized Hydraulic Rescue Equipment, otherwise known
as the “Jaws of Life”, as well as other equipment used for rope rescue, swift water rescue and hostile environment scenarios.

This ensures the Emergency Medical Services is now equipped for any eventuality.

With all these resources now at their disposal, Mi7 medics now respond to between 120 to 170 cases per month. This includes critical response to car crash victims, treating those wounded in criminal incidents or through natural causes, and attending to residents and clients in medical emergencies. To manage this workload, the size of the team has almost doubled in the space of a year, growing from 16 members to 26.

Another essential service introduced within the Emergency Medical Services division is the Community Wellness Programme.

Trained nurses were employed and made available free-of-charge, on appointment, to all the company’s Armed Response clients. The team, equipped with their own vehicles and equipment,
assessed residents’ vitals (glucose levels, blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen saturation levels) in the comfort of their homes and provided advice, depending on the outcomes of these tests, on how best to improve their overall wellness.

This initiative was then rolled out to the public at large, with nurses tasked to meet community members in areas of congregation like places of worship and social grant collection sites for example, to administer free vital testing and medical advice on an ongoing basis to those who need it most.

Mi7 nurses now treat on average 180 residents per month – free of charge.

Mi7 National Group’s EMS manager Brandon Drinkwater said: “Mi7 medics were selected not only on their professional skillset, but also on the level of care and compassion they display to each and every member of the community. They are often the first point of respite when people are in extreme pain; they are sometimes the last hand a person will hold. This is a job where you save a thousand lives, but never forget the one that you could not. That is why our medics strive to provide the same level of dedication and quality of service on every single call out”.

Mi7 National Group’s Armed Response was a division that simply had to stand out in an industry saturated with roleplayers who in many cases provide good, quality service. For Mi7, the goal was never to compete, but to reinforce.

It is an ever-repeated motto within the corridors of head office that a unified approach to crime prevention is required, where all members of the security cluster work together to root out crime in our communities. That is why Mi7 Reaction Officers often work alongside the police and other security companies on joint operations within the city, sharing resources toward a single goal of eliminating criminal threats.

However, the company has sought to go further, driven by the expectations of its clients as well as the values enshrined in its code of conduct.

While the core function of our Reaction Officers is to provide a rapid response service to clients, protecting the community is an all-inclusive deal. Reaction Officers therefore attend
to all security concerns, should resources allow, whether the complaint arises from a client or not. As an example, in January this year alone, Mi7 Reaction Officers received 26 908 reports of possible incidents. Only 17 of those were positive crimes affecting our clients while 947 of these incidents were attended for non-clients.

This dedication has led to countless successes in arrests for housebreaking, attempted murder, carjacking, theft, robbery and vandalism. But this is not all that the job is about. Mi7 National Group prides itself on a public service model based on community duty. Reaction Officers are therefore tasked to make everyday differences in the lives of community members
through small acts of assistance: be it waiting for a resident to leave or enter their property safely; keeping an eye on morning joggers as they burn their calories for the day; assisting with burst water pipes, fallen trees or accident debris; directing traffic; or even a pleasant smile and the wave of a hand.

Clients are seen as members of an ever-growing Mi7 family, and we strive to treat them as such.
Mi7 strives to provide high levels of service delivery while seeking to make a larger, positive impact on the lives of our communities.

Reaction Officers have gone as far as rescuing pets from trenches and attics, fixing broken pipes, sweeping the street outside client’s properties, and stopping to pose with young fans of the company.

This is what community duty is all about. Mi7 National Group’s Armed Response manager Wasim Pakker said: “Discipline and duty is what drives this division. When they are called upon, Reaction Officers should be prepared for either a shootout or a false alarm and anything in between. Security is not their only focus; it is about making a small difference in the lives of our residents every day

Essential to the running of both the Armed Response and Emergency Medical Services divisions is the Mi7 Control Room and Surveillance teams.

From only having three surveillance systems in the Ashburton area two years ago, Mi7 National Group has bolstered its effort to cast a city-wide surveillance net over Pietermaritzburg to ensure criminal activity can be closely monitored.

To date, the company has installed 132 surveillance systems in Pietermaritzburg, Hilton and Howick. 56 of these units are equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition software. Each of these units scan the plates of up to 30 000 vehicles per hour and automatically flag those wanted in the commission of crimes anywhere in the country. Through this technology, Mi7 Reaction Officers have made more than a dozen arrests related to vehicle theft since the beginning of the year.

The remaining units are public service domes, or standard CCTV, which provide a constant feed to the control room around the clock. In total, these domes record around 1250 hours of footage per day.

The brain of the operation lies within the Control Room, which has grown in size over the first year. The friendly team not only dispatches resources according to alarm activations and distress calls, but also monitors 205 crime-related community WhatsApp groups. They process between 5000 to 10 000 WhatsApp messages per day – above and beyond their normal duties.

Statistics from the Control Room show the growth of Mi7 National Group over the past year. Across the entire client base, the Control Room processed over one million alarm signals in only twelve months. Of those, more than 300,000 were panic activations or alarms being triggered. Of those, Armed Response was requested or required on 13 224 occasions.

Mi7 National Group now looks ahead to more years of service in the community. It hopes to conduct more community-based initiatives (like its prior refurbishment of Hatcheries Park and the
Raisethorpe CBD), while striving to bolster security in high risk areas it has identified.

The company is also reinforcing its Howick operation by opening a satellite office in Merrivale (launched last month) from which it can deploy resources to clients in the case of emergencies more swiftly.

Mi7 National group director Colin David said: “March marks one year of Mi7 National Group’s endeavour to provide holistic security and community wellness to Pietermaritzburg residents and businesses. The initiative has been met with overwhelming support from the community, for which we are eternally thankful. Clients are seen as members of an ever-growing Mi7 family, and we strive to treat them as such. We cannot thank the Pietermaritzburg, Hilton and Howick communities enough for their show of support. In the years to come, Mi7 National Group will strive to provide even higher levels of service delivery while seeking to make a larger, positive impact on the lives of all residents.

Welcome to the Mi7 Family.
Your Trust, Our Protection.