Doha, 29 December, 2018: With the camping season now well underway, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is reminding the public of how to protect themselves from the most common camping-related illnesses and injuries, many of which are treated by the HMC-run Sealine Medical Clinic located in the south of Qatar near Mesaieed City.
Dr. Hamid Ghareeb, a Consultant at HMC’s Medical Administration Department and Medical Supervisor of the Sealine Clinic, is raising awareness of the facility which officially opened for the ninth year in October. The clinic is open from 3pm each Thursday until 5pm on Saturday and will remain open until mid-April. This will mean that medical care, and specifically, emergency medical services, are available during the busy camping season.
“In addition to being open each weekend, the clinic also provides services during public holidays. We care for patients with both minor health concerns, as well as emergency cases. The clinic is equipped with a helicopter landing area to transfer patients who have urgent medical needs or severe injuries to hospital. We treat patients with a variety of complaints and ailments that range from fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and a cough, as well as more severe conditions including treatment of wounds and burns, intestinal infections, asthma, bone fractures, and heart attacks,” noted Dr. Ghareeb.
Dr. Ghareeb says it is important for campers to take proactive steps to prevent accidents, noting the importance of not burning coal or firewood, or using gas-powered generators or portable gas camp stoves in enclosed spaces, including inside campers and tents. He says barbecues, gas cookers, and heaters can give off carbon monoxide and are a leading cause of carbon-monoxide related poisoning.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning is so dangerous because the signs and symptoms can be easy to miss. Many people with mild carbon monoxide poisoning think they have food poisoning or the flu and dismiss the symptoms. Symptoms of carbon monoxide can include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, and fatigue. Some individuals may also experience chest pain, especially those with coronary heart disease. Symptoms can start to appear within five to 20 minutes of exposure,” warns Dr. Ghareeb.
Dr. Ghareeb recommends only using approved heating devices, which he says can be easily identified as they include an approval number or mark. He also recommends having a separate area for cooking, with a minimum distance of five meters between a tent or camper and fire pit. He also recommends that outdoor fireplaces or fire pits are at least 60 centimeters deep and says campers should use fire retardant tents and ensure they have a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, and a basic first-aid kit that includes antiseptics, disinfectants and burn care supplies available.
Officials from HMC are also reminding the public about the risks of unsafe ATV use, noting that in December and January there is traditionally an increase in the number of patients injured while riding ATVs. Mr. Saleh Al Mejareh Al Marri, Operations Manager for HMC’s Ambulance Service, says many of the victims of ATV accidents are children under the age of 18. He says all ATV drivers, and passengers, should be fully clothed, wearing goggles, gloves, and boots, and using a helmet every time they operate an ATV.
Mr. Al Marri noted that during the camping season in addition to its regular round-the-clock emergency coverage in the Sealine area, the Ambulance Service has added two ambulances and two 4x4 emergency vehicles which will be permanently stationed in the area. He said there are 11 ambulances stationed in the Sealine area during peak times and noted that the Ambulance Service is ready to transport emergency cases from the sand dune area to the clinic or the helicopter landing area, as required.