x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Coordination saves

Abu Dhabi's high-tech emergency response centre should ensure that, despite traffic congestion, patients will be reached and treated far more efficiently.

On a Tuesday two years ago, four people died and hundreds were injured in a 200-car pile up on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway. The nearest hospital, where all the victims were transferred, was soon overwhelmed.

It took that tragedy to force the realisation that coordination was needed to "get the right patient to the right hospital at the right time and for the right treatment", in the words of Dr Ajith George, the director of the emergency response centre at the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (Haad). As we reported yesterday, that realisation has inspired an emergency management centre to handle such coordination.

The centre should save lives. Hospitals and clinics in the country vary in quality and capacity. In a ride-along assignment last year, reporters observed that patients were invariably transferred to the nearest hospital as a matter of course.

But what if the hospital is full or lacking the proper facilities? In an emergency, every moment counts. A call from Haad's command centre could avoid delays, direct medics to the right place and give hospitals time to prepare.

Of course, the proof will be in the results. If it does work, there are many similar crossed signals - which lead to ambulances stuck in traffic or simple failures to answer emergency calls - that could be rerouted.