Dubai: The UAE is fully prepared for any disasters and emergency with a full-fledged national committee for disaster management that has representation of all stakeholders such as health-care facilities, health authorities of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Ministry of Health and Prevention, ambulance services of all emirates and the police, said Dr Saleh Saif Fares, consultant emergency medicine specialist and head of Emirates Society for Emergency Medicine. He was speaking on the sidelines of an emergency medicine seminar and workshop at Arab Health 2017.

The conference looked at the preparedness of the country in terms of emergency handling in case of accidents and trauma care at hospitals and also in cases of major attacks termed Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and other explosives, dubbed as responsiveness to CBRNE.

Dr Tammam Aloudat, deputy medical director of Medecins Sans Frontieres, told Gulf News: “While the UAE is well equipped to deal with emergency services in case of hospitals in times of major accidents, cardio-vascular diseases or stroke patients, what we are looking at is disaster medicine in times of conflict, natural disaster, outbreak of infection, or in times of mass displacement. This subject is relevant for the UAE as it is a big donor to these causes. By training medical personnel, it can, apart from financial help, also send in trained people to help. Most of the aid workers come from the West, but the need of the hour in conflict zones is for Arabic-speaking aid workers who have a cultural understanding and have the ability to communicate with victims. The UAE is training its people for emergency preparedness and sending aid workers to conflict zones will also help their personnel to be prepared to handle any such situation anytime. Of course, no one wants such a situation but it is better to be prepared.”

A new blood donation app introduced by the Dubai Health Authority is designed to register potential donors who can contribute blood in times of emergency and national disasters and will be integrated into the disaster management system.

It’s time to think of hyperbaric oxygen chambers

Dr Ian Miller, senior medical specialist, department of Intensive Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, talked about how high-pressured oxygen has the power to heal trauma and burn patients and also save diabetic patients from impending amputations and heal chemotherapy patients of the excesses of radiation.

The oxygen therapy might also be the solution to tackle antibiotic-resistant bacteria that has become the new headache for health-care professionals all over the world.

“The hyperbaric chamber is a room where the atmospheric pressure is raised to the level where 100 per cent pure oxygen is pumped into the room. This triggers complete healing of scarred, necrotic tissue, kills infection and repairs tissue. It is particularly helpful in saving gangrene-infected foot, save burnt tissue from necrosis, raise the immunity of the body to fight off severe infections and trigger complete healing. I would say that it might be the next stop after the drug-resistant antibiotic as no bacteria is able to last in excessive oxygen which strengthens the natural immune system of the body,” said Dr Miller.

He cited the case of a 67-year-old woman in his care, suffering post-radiation side-effects who was on walking sticks. “The session in the hyperbaric chamber helped her so much that she was able to discard the walking sticks and actually learn ballroom dancing,” he recalled. “Patients with life-threatening infections, especially diabetics with gangrene, have a 25 per cent mortality rate. With hyperbaric treatment, we are able to reduce the mortality rate by half,” he added.

Currently, barring a few independent hyperbaric chambers in the country, no hospitals have built-in chambers and Dr Miller felt if these chambers were designed in a manner where the patient could get intensive care with trained professional while receiving hyperbaric therapy, it could yield good results.

“The health-care system has a bias towards surgical and drug therapies but no one wants to look at non-surgical options. The cost of building a chamber within a hospital could be negligible as it can be used for over 50 years for several sittings and in the end come to cost only $2 per patient.”