The results of accountability surfacing?

7 Aug, '07

Chapter 1:

A botched up series of events starting with an inaccurate call to the emergency line alerting an operator that a woman was in trouble and needs immediate medical help led to a delay in dispatching an ambulance to the concerned area.

Ultimately, it took the medical emergency personnel to arrive three hours after the initial call, but only after another doctor intervened and personally called a resident doctor in the Emergency Department at Samaniya Medical Centre.

But it was too late. Ms. Nalli Mariamma died.

Her body was also left unattended for another hour after she was pronounced dead by the medical personnel after which they left the area and the police investigation department who were then the responsible government organ to take possession of the body took another hour to arrive to claim the body.

Such is the respect of our various government departments for human dignity.

Alas, we can look at the positives in this regard in that a report has now been published by the medical authorities and real changes have been undertaken as a direct result of this botch-up. The report just released now carry adopted recommendations that ambulances should immediately be dispatched to the general area they are required and the dispatcher will continue to try to ascertain exact addresses and inform the ambulance driver of that address once known. As Bahrain is rather small, it is hoped that even without a precise address, people will guide the ambulance to where their services are required. All in all, this will allow – I hope – a faster response time which might save some lives.

I also hope that another thing that the report apparently did not consider should be done about inter-governmental communication, especially between emergency and police services. Or is that what the much talked about “Emergency Response Centre” is supposed to do? If it is, then why wasn’t it involved?

Further, if I may suggest, the authorities should bring out and severely action a law which immediately fines/imprisons all those inconsiderate drivers who do not immediately get out of the ambulances and fire engines’ way as well as those who take the chance of those vehicles passing to chase after them at a rate of knots because the way is now open!

In any case, something good has come out of this situation; so thank you Ms. Mariamma, your life – we hope – has not expired in vain.

Chapter 2:


Some reportedly already entered papers into the Ministry of Labour’s computers have been improperly disposed off. The story is still sketchy but it appears that a driver was given a bunch of reams of unemployed people’s application forms to take to a storage depot in Hamad Town but on arrival at the destination they were refused to be received because of improper paperwork. Acting on his own recognisance and switching on his immense creative genes, he decided to dump those papers in a garbage can in the village of A’ali which lies in between both destinations!

Those papers were discovered, the local MP was called for perfect picture opportunities who reportedly has called an under-secretary from the Ministry of Labour to the scene to show him the discovery.

Uncharacteristically, the under-secretary owned up to the feat and offered an immediate apology and promised a transparent investigation into the incident and ordered the papers’ removal for proper disposal. The report was supposed to have been released today so I hope to read its findings tomorrow.

The upside of this incident of course is the discovery that even officials (now) actually do own up to their Ministry’s errors without having to resort to the age-old-tried-and-tested method of Bahraini derrière coverage.

The other upside of this is that the sanctity of private information has once again come to the fore, and that the government and parliament should put in place proper laws to protect our valuable data and hopefully criminalise its abuse. Maybe the parliament can also turn their collective sights on the so called “Smart Card” and include its embedded data under a new and well rounded Data Protection Act.

This two unfortunate chapters have the real potential of being excellent news as they demonstrate that officials have now started to realise that they are under the public sights and are required to do something tangible and immediate about infractions and mistakes perpetrated by their organisations and that taking proper and immediate actions are far better methods of damage control.

Well done to both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour on their actions. We hope to see more ministries following in your footsteps.

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Comments (10)

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  1. SoulSearch says:

    May God rest her soul. I’m glad these guys are being mature enough to own up to the slips, which is the mature thing to do boys! As you said Mahmood, their tried and tested formula has ceased to work!!!

  2. the only sad thing is that changes don’t happen until a poor soul meets its creator, or international public humiliation happens.

    as you guys said, glad to see some act the way they should have long before.

  3. Ammar says:

    its been a long time coming, but hopefully things like this start to increase in number (the accountability, not the situations). Also, I think the accountability needs to start growing to include bigger situations; such as lost funds from projects, failed infrastructure, etc. Full auditing of these institutions needs to be encouraged.

  4. mahmood says:

    I agree Ammar, corruption is a big problem that if not corrected, countries and societies can kiss their future good bye. It is a rather serious business and in light of the various reports published by the likes of the World Bank with Bahrain’s ranking eroding consistently, serious reparations should be undertaken. There is no longer any time to just patch things up with half measures.

    This accountability is rather encouraging, especially as they have been truly highlighted by the responsible press, as they have done other issues which have also been taken up.

    This is the first time; however, that officials actually immediately and unabashedly issuing apologies and taking immediate steps to ascertain and rectify situations.

  5. Redbelt says:

    I had similar concerns last week about the fire brigade. You can see the video in my blog as they tried to extinguish last weeks blaze.

    It is very scary indeed when you cannot depend on emergency units for emergancies.

  6. Hamad Algoeri says:

    People let me share you an article I read about how the ambulance system works in country like Germany .

    The article called (when speed means life or death) . For them every second is critical they focus in some thing called the golden hour which is the first hour after the accident which determine if you will survive or not .

    Base in the concept of the Golden hour they focus in three elements :

    ·The time taken to find out about the accident

    ·The time it takes to travel to the accident

    ·The time it takes for appropriate treatment

    The first element was enhanced through intelligent system linked to all car air bag and as soon as this bag open for any reason an onboard computer report to a control center . Satellite system allow the vehicle to be located and the owner of the car will be identified (his medical history in case he need special arrangement) other sort of accident got different technology to be identified like wall sensor for houses ext .

    The next element was enhanced through the use of helicopter in case of serious accident which reduce the time to shift the person to the hospital . On the other hand they develop sophisticated distribution strategy were they position ambulances close to where accident are likely to occur and not at hospital base in analyses of accidents history and fast access points to different locations.

    They used the modern communication system to create highly efficient emergency system which I hope we can develop one day to respect our humanity and the future business men coming to work in this great island in case stock prices goes down 😉

  7. Capt. Arab says:

    sometimes it takes a disaster to bring about change. Time will only tell if we have learned from those mistakes.

  8. Abdulkarim says:

    It is unacceptable for an ambulance to take three hours in a small country like Bahrain which has a good road network.

    Unfortunately, many roads are inappropriately named. Many have acquired names that are different from their official names. Many are familiar with Seef Road, Fort Road or Adhari Road yet there are no such roads. How many are familiar with roads such as Khalif Alasfoor Road or Jamal Alafgani Road that do exist?

    You can only imagine the bewilderment an ambulance driver would face when asked to go to Independence Road or worse still Road number 456!

    Having more appropiately named roads should help but that could be too much to ask. What the authorities could easily do is to make it compulsory on all those working in emergency services; police, fire brigade, ambulances and so forth to learn by hurt the road map of Bahrain. This should not be a big problem.

    In some other cities, London for example, taxi drivers can not obtain the licence without passing a knowledge test of street names and their locations. Now that is a difficult one knowing how big London is but people do pass it. A similar test in Bahrain would be a more simple affair. Modern tecknolgies should make it even more simple still.

    I think the ambulance and the health cervices in Bahrain are amongst the best in the world and it is all for free. Sadly, this generous policy has resulted in an ever increasing demand on the health services. The doctors here are some of the most over worked in the world. Visit any A&E department in any big city in Europe or North America and the chances are that you will not find a fraction of the number of patients as those in the A&E at Salmania. Such is the level of abuse here that some even treat the ambulance as a free taxi. No wonder some body ends up paying the ultimate price for it.

  9. LiB Team says:

    Regarding the first incident, I think the authorities responsible for Ambulance Services should consider installing GPS navigation systems in their ambulances, I mean come on, you can find them everywhere and they don’t cost a lot and it will help save lives.

  10. LiB Team says:

    I think what the A&E should do is install GPS navigation systems in their ambulances, they don’t cost much nowadays and getting more and more widespread, I think it will help a big deal in locating the addresses faster and thus helping actually save a life.

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