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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Women paramedics 'essential' to Dubai ambulance services

More than 200 women work at the corporation with more expected to be recruited soon

A paramedic shows how to resuscitate a patient at the Dubai International Ambulance Conference on Monday. Anna Nielsen tor The National
A paramedic shows how to resuscitate a patient at the Dubai International Ambulance Conference on Monday. Anna Nielsen tor The National

Women paramedics are ‘essential’ to ambulance services and now make up 23 per cent of the staff at Dubai Corporation of Ambulance Services, its director Khalifa Al Drai said on Monday.

Speaking at the annual Dubai International Ambulance Conference, Mr Al Drai said more than 200 women work at the corporation with more expected to be recruited soon.

“This type of job is not easy for anyone. However, women who became paramedics have proved their efficiency and professionalism in the field,” he said.

Women first began joining the corporation in 2004 and 14 years later, they now comprise 23 per cent of the staff.

“Some conservative families, especially in the GCC countries do not allow a male paramedic to treat their wives or female relatives.

“Thus, having female paramedics is essential,” said Mr Al Drai

Dubai ambulances responded to 170,000 incidents last year. Of those emergencies, 35,000 were considered life-threatening and included incidents of heart attacks, strokes and treating people injured in car accidents or fires.

Some 40,000 of the emergencies involved rescuing victims of traffic accidents, high-rise falls, and treating workers injured at their workplace.

The figure is an increase from the 37,000 such incidents the year before.

DCAS has 145 ambulance patrols and employs 900 paramedics – of these, 210 are women.

Mohammed Muhsin, an emergency technician for the air wing at DCAS, said the ambulance service is looking to recruit women paramedics to join his air evacuation team.

“We will recruit female first responders in the field of air evacuation,” he said.

“There are situations when a patient suffers from a head injury and is unconscious to the way they react.

“Some women refuse to be treated by male paramedic. Therefore, we ask for a female paramedic,” said Mr Muhsin.

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The 31-year-old, who has been working at the corporation for almost ten years, said the biggest challenge they face is getting to the site of the incident as quickly as possible.

“On a daily basis, our team receives reports about accidents located far away from Rashid Hospital during the peak hours.

“Thus, air wing paramedics is the only solution to transport patients on spot and provide them with treatment while they are being airlifted,” he said.

“When we receive a call, we get ourselves ready and supplied with all equipment needed to deal with the case,” said Mr Muhsin, who is most affected by cases involving children.

“I am mostly saddened by child fatalities in traffic accidents. During such cases, I find out that parents did not use child safety seats in their vehicles,” he said.

The corporation’s director of medical and technical affairs, Dr Omar Al Saqqaf, agreed that parents should do more to take care of their children.

“All accidents involving children that the corporation dealt with were due to parental negligence," he said.

"We always advise parents to accompany their children and keep an eye on them,” said Dr Al Saqqaf.

Fatima Ali, a student at Fatima College of Health Sciences in Abu Dhabi, intends to become a paramedic someday.

“I am studying to become a paramedic. I want to help and rescue people.”

Ms Ali was demonstrating to visitors of the conference how to perform emergency procedures, first aid and give patients cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Bothaina Al Falasi, a paramedic with Female Responder, a women-only ambulance crew launched by DCAS last year, said they respond to at least three emergencies daily.

“The First Female responder is fully equipped to deal with emergencies. We can deliver a baby in the vehicle. We call for backups, if needed.

“There are around six female responders. We provide treatment only to females and children,” she said.

“I am very proud of my profession.”

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