Saturday, 21 April 2012

Ambulance in Riyadh

Above is a picture of an Ambulance in Riyadh making its way through traffic.  It's heading down a one way street against the traffic.  Suffice to say it's not getting very far very fast.

This is not the first time I have seen ambulances stuck in traffic in Riyadh.  It seems to happen with frightening regularity.  Frightening because I would hate to be the one waiting for, or stuck in the back of, the ambulance.

When a situation is so dire you need an ambulance it doesn't help to know that in Riyadh the blaring siren means absolutely nothing to the driving masses.  I've seen ambulances have to wait at round-abouts because the drivers have no intention of giving way.  And I'm not talking little round-abouts with only one fruitcake driver diving in front of the ambulance while its siren is screaming at full pitch.  More the 3 lane variety of traffic circle during the hectic afternoon school pickup and no-one is giving an inch.

On more than one occasion I have told Mr Noor, who can be guilty of lane hogging, to see where the siren is so we can make sure we are out of the way.  Not pulling over for wailing sirens just goes against my grain even if I'm not in the drivers seat.

Occsaionally it has crossed my mind that I ought to find out how to get hold of Emergency Services should I require them.  Admittedly I've also wondered how good are they.  An early experience with a health service for a simple ear ache has made me somewhat dubious about the standard of emergency care for something serious.

As a member of I came across some very helpful information on Emergency Services in Riyadh.  You can click over and have a read (there is some good tips and information) but what I gathered from the piece is that access to Emergency Services is as convoluted as anthing else in KSA.  However, if I implement a couple of simple strategies I should be ok.

blog expat

Although Red Crescent is the public ambulance provider (their number is 997 - stick it in your contacts under  'A' for Ambulance) it seems they are not necessarily the ambulance you should call if your compound has an agreement with another Emergency Service provider. 

Finding out who to call is probably a good idea before actually needing them.  Such information should have been crossed off my list of "Very important things to find out" two years ago, when I arrived.  I guess it's better late than never. 

Strategy 2
Its nice to know that having limited knowledge of Arabic is not going to unduly delay assistance coming my way should I get through to the Red Crescent team.   At this point in time my Arabic vocabulary is sadly lacking any words to do with 'Help!'

I just have to learn American terms like 'Paramedic' (we call them ambulances) and 'RTA' or Road Traffic Accident (we say car crash, car accident or major F*n pile up).   Who knew I'd have to learn American when I moved to Saudi!

Strategy 3
Most expats have medical insurance included as part of their contract package.  I recall Hubster saying such inclusion is part of the labour law requirements in KSA though don't quote me because I was only listening with one ear at the time and may have imagined the conversation.  (The other ear was suffering from KSA medical treatment as mentioned previously.)  Finding where I put my BUPA card, and keeping it on me, is probably a good idea.

There are my 3 simple strategy's that should save my rear end should I ever need to call an ambulance while in Riyadh - let's just hope my emergency is not during peak hour traffic.

* * *

Paramedic to the Prince is one paramedics story about living and working in Saudi Arabia. I'm sure you will enjoy it :)

Ka Kite,


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