Are you prepared for an accident in Qatar?

Medic Image

Ok, a disclaimer: The following blog is based on a medical emergency I witnessed. I will give my account of events but I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am not qualified to give medical advice.

On then…

There was an accident in the apartment building where I live. A man fell very badly and hit his head. There was blood; he went into shock. What happened next made me realise that most of us are very unprepared for an accident, and that’s not really good enough. I think in our home countries we would have faith in the system and just leave a medical emergency up to the ‘professionals’. But we’re not in our home countries, are we?

Luckily, this man (we’ll call him Hani), fell right in front of another guy, my mate Ben, who happened to be first-aid trained with current valid certification. Ben went straight over to Hani, slowed the blood, asked all the questions, calmed him down and directed the people around to get help.

Here were some of the problems encountered.

  • No one nearby had a phone to call an ambulance
  • The closest phone was at building reception, a few minutes’ walk away
  • People around weren’t really willing to help
  • Building security staff panicked somewhat, rushed to the scene but were obviously not trained for medical emergencies
  • No one knew where the building’s first aid bag was kept. Hani sat for nearly an hour with nothing but Ben’s t-shirt to plug the bleeding. No bandages. No ice. No gloves for Ben. Nothing.
  • Building staff were more concerned with taking names and photographs for an incident report than helping the patient. They seemed afraid (of the ramifications of the situation I assume, not of the blood).
  • Everyone who came in contact with Hani was generally stressed out, completely ignoring the fact that he was extremely afraid and needed to be kept calm
  • The ambulance took nearly an hour to arrive. On a Friday morning.
  • Hani was alone in Doha. He had arrived just 1 week before and knew no one. He was completely dependent on Ben to calm him down and tell him what was going on.
  • Hani spoke OK English but was much more comfortable speaking Arabic. No one around spoke Arabic.
  • Other than Ben (who, remember, was just a bystander), no one took charge of the situation. Communication was poor, actions lacked purpose. It was quite frightening.

So, for me, this accident begs the question of everyone living in Doha: do you know the emergency procedures for the tower/compound/building where you live?

  • Is anyone on staff trained in first aid?
  • Do you know if there is a first aid kit on site and where it is kept?
  • Do they have a defibrillator or similar in case of cardiac arrest?
  • If there is one, does anyone know how to use it?
  • Where is the first response team i.e. are you relying completely on an ambulance from Hamad Hospital or Red Crescent to come in case of an emergency?
  • Do you, your family and friends know the emergency phone number in Qatar? (It’s 999)

If your answer to these questions is “I don’t know”, it might be a good idea to find out and wouldn’t really require much effort on your part.

Should you help in a medical emergency?

This is something to definitely think about. If Hani had been a Muslim woman, there could have been a real problem. Ben would not have been able to help ‘her’. He could not have touched her. He might not even have been able to talk to her.

So if there’s an emergency, I’m screwed?

No, there are options. If you want to get qualified in first aid, Hamad International Training Center hold courses. The College of North Atlantic offers classes accredited by the American Heart Association. Dr Ahmed at Al Ahli holds small group infant first aid classes that cover CPR (ph: 66 87 3539). You could also ask your place of work to send in a trained professional to accredit interested staff.

I think everyone who lives in and visits Qatar should know that stepping in and helping someone in an emergency here comes with risks. Whether you choose to do so is not something I can advise about, but it’s something to think and maybe ask questions about so that you’re ready if you’re ever faced with the dilemma.

I don’t want to scare anyone, and I definitely don’t want to scare anyone away, but I think we should all take responsibility for our own health and safety and do our best to become as educated as possible.

 Image from here.

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