Emergency patients beware. The ambulance service may not be able to transport you to a hospital outside your emirate, at least not to and from Dubai.
Patients who have been complaining that they are not allowed to go to their choice of hospital for treatment are simply told that the priority of an emergency situation is to take them to the nearest hospital and not to the hospital of their choice.
A patient in Sharjah, for example, will only be taken to a hospital within the emirate and any transfer to a hospital outside the emirate will be allowed only in co-ordination between the two hospitals.
Similarly, note that the only way to reach a hospital in case of an emergency in Dubai is to call 999.
A private ambulance is only allowed to take patients from another hospital or from the airport.
“We are not allowed to take patients from any other emirate or from people’s homes,” confirmed an official at the Ambulance section of Mediclinic Welcare Hospital in Dubai.
According to Niel Kirby, Director of Operations at Dubai Ambulance Service, the official authorised operator in the emirate, the primary responsibility of an ambulance service is to take the patient as quickly as possible to the nearest hospital.
“This is not a taxi service,” he clarified. His company has about 1,100 staff including 700 medicos working round-the-clock. “On an average day, we receive about 300 to 350 calls for emergency assistance,” he says.
The company started its service in 2006 as part of Dubai Police’s emergency response team and ever since then, the number of calls they cater to has increased by almost 45 per cent.
“In 2012 alone, we transported about 105,000 emergency patients, mostly in medical related cases, such as cardiac, respiratory, diabetes and trauma related causes,” he says.
In another interesting statistics, he added that the majority of the emergency calls come from public towers, including offices and shopping malls, followed by roadside cases. Private residences are third on the list.
“In almost 50 per cent of cases, our ambulance service manages to reach the patients within eight minutes. About 80 per cent of times we manage to reach within 13 minutes,” he says and adds that delays, if any, are mostly because of wrong landmarks and motorists not giving way to approaching ambulance.