x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

'Buses' with a mission to save lives

Two "ambulance buses", big enough to accommodate dozens of casualties, yesterday joined Dubai's 112-strong conventional fleet.

Two "ambulance buses", big enough to accommodate dozens of casualties, yesterday joined Dubai's 112-strong conventional fleet when they were inaugurated by Sheikh M9ohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the state news agency, WAM, reported. The new ambulances - in effect mobile hospitals - are fitted with the latest medical technology and equipment, including an operating theatre, X-ray system and oxygen supply.

Sheikh Mohammed said their introduction would greatly reduce loss of life on the roads. Each vehicle cost more than Dh15 million (US$4m). Khalifa Hassan al Drai, the executive director of the Dubai Centre for Ambulance Services, said that together they could handle 96 injured people at once. He added that a third vehicle was planned. A recent report issued by the World Health Organisation said the UAE had one of the highest road death rates in the world. At 37.1 deaths per 100,000 people, the toll on the country's drivers, riders and pedestrians is far worse than in most western, Asian and African countries.

Minibus crashes, in particular, are involved in dozens of deaths. The vehicles, which frequently ferry Asian expatriates and labourers to work sites, have been described by doctors as unsafe, while Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority has warned of more stringent licensing laws for minibus drivers.