An African woman lay sprawled on a street in Deira at 11.30pm after allegedly falling from a second-floor balcony.
A DHA-accredited social worker, Rey Angulo, spotted the woman on the pavement while he was on his way home from work. As she struggled to breathe, Angulo held her hand and tried to reassure her that help was on the way.
“Blood was oozing from her nostrils, her mouth,” Angulo told Gulf News, recalling the incident that took place in 2014.
“The disturbing part was that when I asked bystanders if anyone had called for an ambulance, they said they had but [it turned out that] they had dialled the wrong number. I was surprised that no one knew the emergency line 998 for the ambulance services.”
The woman, who appeared to be in her late 20s or early 30s, was identified only as Joy.
At the hospital, no one came to visit her during the two weeks she was there, said Angulo, who regularly does the rounds at hospitals in Dubai.
Two weeks later, she died unidentified.
“She died a ‘Jane Doe’,” Angulo said, “But her case is not unique.”
Angulo said approximately three out of 10 cases he handles either do not have identification papers or emergency contact information with them. This makes helping the patient more challenging.
It is an extremely useful and valuable best practice for everyone to keep contact numbers of family or friends and other vital ifnroamtion on them as an emergency can occur anywhere and if they happen to be alone at that time, this information can make all the difference to those coming to their aid.
“Having emergency contact information written or printed out, whether tucked inside your wallet or in a notebook in your hand bag, is very, very important, especially for people with pre-existing health conditions,” stressed Angulo. “If you fall into a coma and you don’t have anything with you, it’s an added task for us to trace your family or friends.”
Pam Gauri, a volunteer social worker from the Dubai-based NGO Valley of Love, could not agree more.
“Emergency contact details are the first thing I look for. This is needed to coordinate with their families either here or in their home country and to coordinate with their office management,” Gauri told Gulf News.
“Without that [emergency contacts], nothing moves. We won’t know where and how we can repatriate a patient. And this is happening quite often here,” Gauri said.
The problem is compounded if the patient is living alone in the UAE. This is why Dubai-based expatriate Ferdinand Gutierrez decided to be ready.
“I’m a bachelor. If something happens to me, I at least want my family to know right away,” Gutierrez, 33, a Filipino who works in public relations, said.
Gutierrez said he keeps two printed copies of his emergency contacts in two red folders — one is kept in the office and the other is at home.
Gutierrez said he decided to keep his emergency contacts handy after some of his colleagues died and his office managers found it difficult to contact their families, even friends.
“Everything is listed there — my full name, passport number, contact information here and in the Philippines, bank details, pension fund and savings account, and many more — everything my family has to know. And I’ve informed my best friend where to find it in case of an emergency,” Gutierrez said.
You don’t need to carry this emergency information with you wherever you go. Just have the basic emergency contacts with you. But make sure they are printed out because storing them in mobile phones is not always reliable. If the phone battery dies or the phone’s owner goes unconscious, any locked phone will prove useless. Memorising important numbers is key, and that’s what Venus Ramos’ five-year-old daughter Gabrielle does.
“Gabrielle memorised her father’s mobile number when she was three years old. It was not intentional, she just happened to hear us mention it a lot whenever we order food for delivery,” Ramos said.
“But I believe it is helpful because apart from teaching her her name and her parents’ name, where she lives, not to talk to strangers, et cetera, we know that if she gets lost, God forbid, she knows our number.”
Keeping one or two numbers in mind is helpful. Writing them down and keeping the note with you is more beneficial, Angulo said.
“I have a small pocket notebook that contains all important contact information, the medicines I take, my blood type, and other important details. I’ve had this practice for the past three decades now,” Angulo said, adding that even details like allergies if you suffer from can be listed.
Gauri also agreed that this is a practice everybody should follow.
“Keeping your emergency contacts with you is a wonderful practice. You never know what might happen.”