Health Care in Danger: New tool for first responders

13-02-2014 Article

A new report has been published, setting out ways to increase the safety of pre-hospital care and ambulance services in difficult circumstances.

Entitled Ambulance and pre-hospital services in risk situations, the report summarizes field experience from over 20 countries, gathered at an expert workshop in Mexico in May last year. Recommendations made in the report include strengthening national laws to further protect ambulance services, and improving coordination with the authorities, the military and other stakeholders. The report also advises adopting best practices with regard to ensuring appropriate psychological support, training and personal protective equipment are given to staff and volunteers.

Another important recommendation in the report is to build trust within the community. “It took the death of 12 Red Cross volunteers by the year 1987 for us to realize that it’s not enough just to be neutral – we also need to be perceived as being neutral,” explained Georges Kettaneh, secretary-general of the Lebanese Red Cross. “Building that perception is hard work and requires a deliberate and coherent effort at all levels.”

Written by the Norwegian Red Cross, with support from the ICRC and the Mexican Red Cross, the report is an excellent resource for health-care professionals and volunteers working in contexts affected by armed violence. It can now be ordered online.