Abu Dhabi: The toll of the COVID-19 outbreak on front line workers has extended even beyond their personal fight with the disease, yet it hasn’t deterred their spirit to serve the community.
Colonel Thuraya Ali Al Hashimi, director of medical services at the Abu Dhabi Police, says her hardest challenge was not the moment when she contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty, or even when she worked for two months without a single day off at the start of the outbreak.
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“My management urged me to take a few days, but I couldn’t — this was my duty. But one day, a couple of weeks after I returned from [battling COVID-19 and the following quarantine, I collapsed on the office stairs,” Al Hashmi said.
But she remained undaunted. She got up and went back to work, leading the fight against COVID-19 across all Abu Dhabi Police’s facilities, even though she had injured her hand during the fall. A medical visit a few weeks later confirmed that Al Hashmi needed to have her injury treated.
“The pain was getting worse by the day. So, after three weeks I went to a doctor who sent me for an X-ray, and confirmed it was a bone fissure. She said I had to wear a splint, so I did, and I went back to work straight away,” the policewoman and certified clinical scientist said.
“I was proud carrying out my responsibilities like everyone else in my team, and I wanted to stay on the front lines. Everybody was doing their part, day and night, and I was proud to work with the medical staff I met during this challenge. They demonstrated extraordinary efforts [during the outbreak,” she added.
Sharing her experience
The officer spoke about her journey with COVID-19 since February 2020. After an initial heads-up from her top management, senior staff were called to a meeting in the operations Centre at the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, which regulates the emirate’s health care sector. At the meeting, Dr Mattar Al Nouaimi, director general of the DOH’s Abu Dhabi Public Health Center and director of the emergency and disaster management division, explained that the novel coronavirus outbreak in China meant the world would soon be facing an unprecedented challenge. As Gulf News reported last month (September), Dr Al Nouaimi himself valiantly fought COVID-19, and continued to work during his period of COVID-19 medical isolation.
“That meeting was on a Thursday at noon and we had to devise a plan that would start on the Sunday. We had two days to manage that. When I drove back home that night, I felt stressed and had to develop a comprehensive plan and strategy that covered team members’ training, resources and equipment that would help us lead the fight against COVID-19 in all our departments and facilities, including at punitive and correctional establishments,” Al Hashmi said.
“My team showed real dedication by working immediately on this issue and starting to implement the strategy in all sectors to protect every employee at police facilities, and [within] the community at large,” she added.
The operation included opening three clinics — one each in the capital, Al Ain and Al Dhafra, and also forming seven teams within punitive and correctional establishments, sourcing testing equipment, and equipping staff with PPE gear and much more.
“I am honoured today to be able to speak on behalf of all my colleagues and friends who have held hands with me for the past eight months to create a shield that has helped others,” Al Hashmi said, adding that it is the staff who deserve credit for all the hard work.
Praised the formation of the Frontline Heroes Office, she added that the new entity will be of great benefit to many people who deserve the recognition and support it will offer.