A volunteer being trained at Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services. Image Credit: DCAS

Dubai: Patients in a medical emergency in Dubai can now expect a quicker response from Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services (DCAS), thanks to a growing network of trained volunteer first responders who are now available at the click of a button.

Currently, one in five emergency responses by DCAS is done in four minutes, down from an earlier average of eight minutes.


Khalifa Bin Darai launching the ESEFNI app. Courtesy: DCAS

DCAS executive director Khalifa Bin Darai told Gulf News the volunteers, who have been trained in providing first aid even before an ambulance arrives on the scene, can be located within a short radius from where the patient is, with the help of a new app called ESEFNI which is under trial.

“ESEFNI or Help Me is a first-of-its-kind application that aims to reduce response time to emergencies. With one touch, the nearest ambulance, volunteer or first responder can reach the patient,” he said.

The app, which links the DCAS’ control room with registered community members who are authorised to provide assistance, guides them to the patients as quickly as possible through a live map that identifies their location.

Bin Darai said the volunteer first responders, who cater to the patients until the ambulance arrives, have been specially trained to save lives and feed critical data to the control room through ESEFNI.

“The volunteers include both health care providers and non-health care providers. Our target is to have over 1,500 such volunteers by 2020. Of them, we have trained 260 so far.”

Non-health care providers who wish to become volunteers must have a minimum high school qualification to apply for the training. As required by law, all volunteers must be registered with the Community Development Authority (CDA) which oversees voluntary activities in the emirate.

Good Samaritan laws

Many countries in Europe, besides the US, Canada, Australia and China have what they call Good Samaritan laws that encourage people who have the required skills to intervene in emergency situations under stringent provisions.

Volunteers who have obtained a certification from DCAS are happy they can be of assistance.

Satish Kumar, 36, said he undertook the DCAS course because he could help out in an emergency in public.

“Although I work as a paramedic in a private hospital, I could not offer my services in public places. But now that I am certified volunteer with DCAS, I can.” He said he was glad his services came in handy on two occasions since he got the training two months ago.

Spinal injury

“In the first instance, a woman suffered a spinal injury in a car accident in Garhoud. I was close by and was able to stabilise her neck till the ambulance arrived. The second was the case of a pedestrian who collapsed due to heat exhaustion in another location. Again, I was happy I could immediately offer the required first aid as a volunteer.”

 I once found myself in a situation when a friend of mine collapsed ... The incident prompted me to avail the DCAS volunteering opportunity.”

 - Mohammad Amer | Volunteer 

Similarly, another volunteer Mohammad Amer, 36, said he had good reason to take up the DCAS course.

“I once found myself in a situation when a friend of mine collapsed. He needed urgent help. Thankfully, the ambulance arrived on time and saved his life. The incident prompted me to avail the volunteering opportunity at DCAS so I could help patients when they needed it most.”