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Syria: first-aiders on full alert around the clock

01-12-2011 News Footage Ref. V F CR-F-01111-A

Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers, working in completely unpredictable situations, do not hesitate to put their own lives at risk to save the lives of others.

  • TV news footage transmitted on Eurovision News 1st December 2011
  • Footage available from the ICRC Video Newsroom same date  : www.icrcvideonewsroom.org

For more information, please contact Didier Revol, ICRC, Geneva, tel: + 41 79 217 32 82, e-mail

Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers, working in completely unpredictable situations, do not hesitate to put their own lives at risk to save the lives of others. After one of them lost his life a few months back evacuating an injured person in an ambulance, his fellow volunteers became more determined than ever to continue to perform their life-saving tasks. That kind of commitment is usually hard to make, since each of the volunteers has a family, a mother and a father, and children.

This series of unique interviews was filmed with Red Crescent volunteers, giving an insight into their hopes, fears and motivation.   

"When I leave home in the morning to join my colleagues at the Red Crescent centre, my parents are just so afraid," said Fatma, a volunteer in the Damascus branch. "They only feel better when I am back home in the evening," she added. This is the case for many of the thousands of Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers currently on full alert whenever the situation becomes tense.

Emergency health-care services and, especially, first aid and medical evacuations provided by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are urgently needed and have saved many lives. However, the Red Crescent volunteers take considerable risks carrying out their humanitarian activities. There have been reports of medical and other health-care staff being deliberately prevented from performing their tasks of evacuating the injured and providing first aid and other medical attention for those who need it. This is not acceptable, because providing health care for the wounded and the sick, no matter who they may be, is a basic humanitarian requirement.

As violence continues, the situation in parts of Syria is a source of considerable concern to the ICRC. Our view of the situation is always closely linked to the impact it has on the population, and in this case there is no doubt that ordinary Syrians are suffering the effects of the continuing violence. The death toll is reportedly on the rise, as is the number of people injured or detained.


00 00: Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers in uniform checking dispatch for the day

00 02: “We are at the operation centre for the southern area in Al Zahira”

00 07: Khaled Erkoussi, Head of Operations, Syrian Arab Red Crescent
“We had the idea of creating a crisis response unit like the one we’ve had in the Damascus branch since 2000.”

00 17: “This centre has functioned 24/7 since the beginning of the events in Syria.”

00 30: Volunteers moving to ambulances and preparing material before departure (5 shots)

00 42: Hany Hawasly, volunteer
“We’ve been on full alert around the clock for 8 months now for first aid and medical evacuations”.

01 00: Close shot of ambulance front with roof emergency lights on, volunteer placing Red Crescent flag at rear for protection use.

01 05: Fatma Mhana, volunteer
“Friday used to be a leisure day, a day to spend with the family.”

01 14: “Since the beginning of the events, Fridays have been dedicated to the Red Crescent.”

01 21: “Even our parents know that in the morning we have to go to the centre to work in ambulances, and when we finish we go back home.”

01 32: Close shot on tablet, then pan to radio controller, back to the tablet with finger scrolling through street map.

01 45: Hany
“I am often the first ambulance going out, to assess the situation and needs.”

01 52: “Then we ask the control room to send ambulances or mobile clinics.”

02 01: Medium shot of woman ambulance driver contacting operation room
“Operation room, operation room this is ambulance 107”

02 05: “107 go ahead”

02 07: “Can we have 10 more seconds to get the ambulance ready?”

02 15: “107: You have only 1 minute to be ready, not more.”

02 18: “Copy that!”

02 22: Fatma
“There are places where it’s easy for us to go.”

“And other places where we have to wait for things to calm down before moving in.”
02 29: Razan Jaradeh, volunteer (appears at 02 37)
“It’s because we work on the ground that people respect us and want to protect us.”

02 37: “We’ve been able to help those people and it feels nice.”

02 45: “We now work all week long, not only on Fridays, and that puts pressure on us volunteers.”

02 54: Fatma
“There are many problems.”

02 57: “We feel the psychological pressure, the fear our parents have when they know we are going to dangerous areas.”

03 07: Hany
“We went to a lot of effort to build a solid team,

03 12 that works in full neutrality and according to our humanitarian principles.”

03 19: “This is important if we want to continue working in the current circumstances, 03 27 and benefiting from everyone’s trust.”

03 33: Khaled
“I’m married to a Red Crescent volunteer. I met her in the Homs branch and she now works with us here.”

03 42: “It makes my life easier that she is always here with me.”

03 47: “Sometimes she is in an ambulance and I have to send her to dangerous places.”

03 56: “That makes me more careful about the decisions I make. It reminds me that all volunteers are as important as she is.”

04 12: Female volunteer in ambulance

04 15: Razan (appears at 04 17)
“In the past our services were very simple, such as transporting sick persons.”

04 20: “Today it’s about saving people’s lives. We have a higher sense of responsibility. We have to do our best.”

04 30: “This is not a game. Depending on how we react, we could cause a person harm, or give that person a chance to get back to a normal life.”

04 40: ICRC logo

04 45: ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: + 41 22 730 25 41 or + 41 79 536 92 57

  • Copyright: ICRC access all
  • Release year: End November 2011
  • Production locations: Syria, Al Zahira
  • Running time: 04'45 min
  • Reference: V F CR-F-01111-A

Format: Mpeg4 / 16:9 / SD