For the past six years, an Emergency Medical Dispatcher working at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Amjad Abumaali has been one of the shining examples of those who dedicate their life to helping others in need.
For Abumaali, raising awareness about health issues and ensuring the well-being of the public, are inspiring forces that keep him motivated as an emergency call dispatcher. He recalled:
At the age of 25, I decided to take up the profession as a call dispatcher for emergency services. I joined College of the North Atlantic – Qatar in 2005 and completed three years of pre-nursing study. I joined HMC’s Emergency Services in 2008 and graduated from the university in 2011.’
Abumaali stated that becoming a family man brought a big change to his life and also strengthened his views toward safety. He said:
Every time I sit in my car, I think about my family. Wearing a seatbelt and driving carefully are the two basic precautions one needs to practice on the road to avoid accidents and endangering lives.’
Over the past three years, the HMC’s Ambulance Service has grown significantly to meet the changing and evolving needs of the population of Qatar. But the role of ambulances and critical care paramedics is dependent on the efficient performance of the emergency call dispatchers.
The Ambulance Service’s Medical Communication Center was recently named Middle East’s first Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). He explained:
Every day, I come in to work 15 minutes before the start of my shift, to get a sense of how busy the earlier shift was. Then I settle in to my shift, preparing myself to answer emergency calls. When you answer a call, you have to be prepared for any type or scale of emergency. All calls have to be answered within five seconds, and every bit of training comes in handy for you to deliver essential support that relates to a patient’s life..each time I receive a call, I prepare myself mentally as I don’t know what level of emergency I might be presented with. Staying calm and communicating clearly is key, as the person on the other end of the line is often panicked and you have to process large volumes of information being given to you in a short space of time.’
He highlighted that as soon as the emergency call dispatcher receives a call, he/she begins asking the caller for information and enters the information into the specialized communication system. This system provides the dispatcher with a set of general entry questions such as:
- What is the address of the emergency?
- What is the phone number you are calling from?
- What exactly happened?
- How old is the patient?
- Is he/she awake (conscious)?
- Is he/she breathing?
Abumaali explained that based on the answers to these questions, the dispatcher will instruct the caller to stay on the line while he dispatches the nearest ambulance to the site. He said:
This is the most critical part of the call and, during this time, cooperation from the caller is essential.’
The Medical Communication Center triages all emergency medical calls and deploys the most appropriate resources in a standardised and consistent manner. He stressed:
As soon as an emergency happens, people need to call 999 because even a few minutes can make a difference in saving a life. It is also important to be aware of where you are, either by knowing the address or being able to describe the surrounding area, as clear details will help the ambulance to reach you faster…knowing that people are in distress and being able to get help to them as fast as possible has been my source of joy and satisfaction since joining HMC as a medical dispatcher and I am committed to supporting our Ambulance Service objective of providing the best possible care always.’
Being a health care facility which seeks to provide the most compassionate and efficient care to each and every one of its patients, HMC’s Ambulance Service has launched ‘Know the 5 to Save a Life’ campaign in January 2013. The campaign outlines the five ways in which people can provide more support to help the Ambulance Service provide fast and effective care. The five steps are:
- Dial 999 immediately
- Know your location
- Answer all questions
- Follow all instructions
- Give way to ambulances on the road
HMC is the principal public healthcare provider in the state of Qatar for over three decades. It manages eight hospitals, incorporating five specialist hospitals and three community hospitals. HMC also manages the National Ambulance Service as well as home and residential care, all accredited by Joint Commission International. HMC is also the first hospital system in the Middle East to achieve institutional accreditation from the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education – International (ACGME-I).