Mogadishu’s free ambulance service: a godsend to victims of violence
Mogadishu - While most people run away from the site of a bomb explosion, the dedicated staff members of the Aamin Ambulance company rush to the scene to offer first aid to victims and ferry the injured to hospitals.
For the past ten years the rescuers have remained true to their calling, offering emergency medical aid to those in need.
Dr. Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan, the founder of the 24-hour free ambulance service in Mogadishu, says he was motivated to start the voluntary service by the deplorable state of health services in the city.
“When I came back to the country, there was a war going on and people were using wheelbarrows to get patients to hospitals. It led to deaths on the way to hospitals, the persons carrying the patient would be tired. That motivated me to respond and set up Aamin Ambulance services. It has helped to stop deaths,” Dr. Adan observes.
In a general climate of apprehension, Dr. Adan and his colleagues had to think seriously about the name they would use for the service to win the trust of the people.
“The word Aamin, if I put ‘I’ before it, it becomes ‘Trust Me’. We chose this name because people in Somalia are not used to having volunteers. So, I wanted them to trust my voluntary service. I chose the name because I wanted their trust,”Dr. Adan explains.
The ambulance service has grown over the years, and today it boasts a team of 35 nurses, paramedics, and drivers, along with a fleet of ten vehicles.
The increase in the number of employees and the demand for the service have stretched the available resources to the limit, forcing the founder to seek assistance from well-wishers and international organizations.
“The initiative came from Somalis in the diaspora. They have so far collected between $25,000 and $28,000, the walkie-talkie radios that UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) donated to us and the ten grams of gold from my wife,” the ambulance founder says.
The medical doctor is particularly grateful to UNDP for the walkie-talkies, which he said will drastically change the way Aamin Ambulance operates especially in emergencies.
“When there is an emergency, everyone tries to make a telephone call and there is a jam on the telephone networks. But the walkie-talkies will make a difference. They will simplify communication among us, coordination among ambulances and collaboration with hospitals,” the dentist-turned-philanthropist explains.
Dr. Adan, who still practices dentistry in Mogadishu, explains that his team faces enormous challenges and physical risks as first responders to emergencies, as they witness traumatizing scenes.
“Sometimes some soldiers fire at us or block you from accessing the scene to rescue someone,” he explains.
Although he is no stranger to blast sites in Mogadishu, Dr. Adan singles out the attack on 14 October at the city’s Zoobe junction, in which more than 300 civilians were killed, as the worst he has ever seen.
“We could see people who were burning who could not move but were still talking, yet we could do nothing. We could see people who had died as they were driving in vehicles, people bleeding, people buried in the rubble and yet we could not help. It was an explosion that traumatized us,” he recalls.
Dr. Adan is undeterred by the challenges he and his employees face and has great plans for Aamin ambulance services.
“My dream is to reach every district, every village in the regions, everywhere in Somalia, so that my ambulances can reach there and serve them. In the next five to ten years, I can reach two to three regions,” Dr. Adan says.
The ambulance service founder adds that, with adequate support, he could have a footprint in every region of Somalia within the next ten years.