DUBAI //The emirate's rescue police are set to create a specialised unit to deal exclusively with toxic spills.
The unit, to be introduced before the end of the year, will employ 40 Emiratis, who will respond to emergencies involving leaks of chemicals or radioactive materials from ships docked in the emirate's port.
"The Dubai Police's rescue squad have proved their excellence and first-rate skills locally and internationally," said Major Juma'a Al Falasi, the director of Dubai Police Rescue. "The recognition they have received from the United Nations for their contribution to the rescue efforts in Pakistan ... corroborates this."
In 2005, Dubai rescue police were called to northern Pakistan to find and dig out people trapped by an earthquake that killed about 75,000 people.
Closer to home, in the first half of this year, the rescue department responded to 83 accidents in Dubai. These incidents resulted in 100 minor or medium injuries, 37 serious injuries and 16 deaths.
The response teams have also been called upon to open 255 doors this year to free people trapped in lifts, cars and apartments.
At sea, the rescue police have responded to 69 accidents this year, 52 of which involved victims who were stranded or close to drowning.
Accidents ranged from boat collisions, sinkings and on-board fires to individuals falling overboard, or reported missing at sea.
Maj Al Falasi said his department strives to break records for response times. "Timing is a key factor in handling serious accidents," he said. "Where people are stuck inside a vehicle, for instance, it is a matter of life and death."
Dubai Rescue vehicles take six to 10 minutes to arrive at the site of an accident, he said.