Doha, 12 May, 2020: Since the beginning of the year, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Ambulance Service has been central to the implementation of measures put in place by Qatar’s healthcare sector to protect the population from COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents many challenges that we have not had to manage before, yet it is something that we have planned and prepared for in recent years,” said Dr. Robert Owen, Chief Executive Officer of the Ambulance Service.
“Throughout the past decade, we have not only expanded capacity across our Ambulance Service but also advanced the quality of care we are able to provide to Qatar’s population. Part of this transformation has been to ensure we have the equipment and expertise to manage a pandemic like COVID-19. Our planning and preparation have meant we have been able to fully deliver services including the safe transportation of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, and medical services within the Industrial Area,” added Dr. Owen.
As early as the end of January, with COVID-19 cases in China and only a small number of other countries, Qatar put in place screening at Hamad International Airport for every passenger arriving to Doha.
“With many thousands of passengers arriving into Qatar via the airport every day, the screening procedures enabled us to identify any passenger with a fever, one of the key symptoms of COVID-19. Any passenger with fever and a travel history to affected countries was either transferred to a medical facility or taken to a quarantine center,” explained Mr. Ali Darwish, Assistant Executive Director of the Ambulance Service.
“Our Ambulance Service continues to provide safe transportation of people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. We have assigned ambulances exclusively to transport these patients and our paramedics are fitted with full personal protective equipment to keep them safe from potential infection. All ambulances carrying suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases undergo a full deep clean in order to eliminate any risk of the virus being transferred to other passengers and I can assure the public that all our response vehicles are safe to travel in,” added Mr. Darwish.
In addition to its frontline role in COVID-19 measures, the Ambulance Service continues to respond to hundreds of non-COVID-19 emergency calls every day.
“The emergence of COVID-19 in Qatar has tested our ability to respond to an increased number of emergency calls. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a 30 percent increase in daily activity. Before COVID-19, we would typically receive around 700 calls a day – this figure has risen to around 1,000 a day in recent months,” explained Mr. Brendon Morris, Executive Director of the Ambulance Service.
“We continue to receive hundreds of call every day from people with medical emergencies with no relation to the virus and it is important for people to know that we remain available to assist anyone requiring emergency medical assistance,” added Mr. Morris.