Conferences & expos

Developing a co-ordinated response to emergency

The International Emergency and Catastrophe Management (IECM) conference and exhibition, which takes place in Dubai from 10 to 12 April this year at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, is the sixth such annual conference to be held in the city. However, this year’s event has renewed impetus and a new focus following the recent worldwide spotlight on disaster preparedness in the wake of several major catastrophes including the Asian tsunami, hurricane Katrina and the South Asia earthquake.

The IECM is conveniently being held in parallel with DIHAD, the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference and Exhibition which is attracting important speakers from the United Nations and major aid organisations. Both events are being held under the auspices of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president of UAE.

The event is organised by Index Conferences and Exhibitions Organisation and held in co-operation with Dubai’s Department of Health and Medical Services (DoHMS). Middle East Health is the official publication for the event.

Abdul Salam Al Madani, managing director of Index, noted that participants will earn CME credits accredited by the American Academy of Continuing Medical Education.

This year’s event will see a major initiative to unite and co-ordinate all stake holders in emergency and disaster response in Dubai, the Emirates and the wider region, including organisations such as civil defense, the fire department, airport emergency response teams, police, ambulance services and hospitals, among others.

“This is the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,” Madani said. Speaking to Middle East Health, Dr Moin Fikree, head of Emergency Department, Rashid Hospital, Dubai, and consultant co-ordinator of IECM, explained: “Emergency is a very broad field. It is not just the emergency department at the hospital.

It is in fact a system incorporating many departments in government and the private sector. Within this system there is in effect two systems, one that has direct patient responsibility, which includes the ambulance services and emergency departments, and there are indirect systems which cover public health issues.

“There is a renewed look at emergency preparedness across the entire world. This is in response to several major catastrophes and public health scares, such as SARS, Avian Flu and even the threat of terrorism.

“If you look at hurricane Katrina [and the flooding of New Orleans in the United States], the emergency response itself was a disaster. A lot of lives were lost, not because they didn’t have the capability or because they lacked resources, but because the response was not unified, co-ordinated. There was a lack of effective communication across all parties involved.”

He said this was one of the key issues of this event – the establishment of a system for the co-ordinated response to emergencies and disasters to ensure a minimum of lives are lost through a quick, effective and unified response and an effective use of available resources.

To deal with this the three-day conference covers, in essence, three major categories within emergency disaster preparedness or public policy – 1. Planning for the unexpected; 2. coping with a worldwide pandemic; 3. earthquake disaster recovery, learning from experience.

A large part of the conference will, however, deal with medical issues such as critical care, cardiology, airway management, acute C-spine injury, acute psychosis and triage in an emergency situation and several sessions will be given over to discussing emergency systems, such as the trauma team leader concept and emergency medical dispatch systems. For a full programme line-up visit the website:

“The conference is aimed at the wider Middle East region, not just the UAE,” Dr Fikree said. He pointed out that a major driver of the emergency co-ordination initiative is the new, state-of-theart, 140-bed Accident & Emergency Trauma Centre at Rashid Hospital, Dubai – a hospital within a hospital dedicated to emergency – which was due to begin operating in March this year.

“There is nothing like it in the region. In fact there are probably only four or five such sophisticated trauma centres worldwide. Highly respected doctors who have recently visited the centre have been very impressed and said it should be recognised as an ‘icon of Dubai’ for its capacity to deal with emergencies,” Dr Fikree said.

“We want it to be a model for the entire region. “For example, it will have a full communications infrastructure to co-ordinate all emergency sectors in Dubai and the Emirates. [It will take over] the current control room in Rashid Hospital, which has hotlines to all the key hospitals in Dubai, such as the American Hospital Dubai and the Welcare Hospital.

Developing public-private partnerships is part of the development of an effective emergency response system. “The centre has advanced equipment and highly skilled personnel. It is the resources that have been given to it, the systems that it will use, that elevate it to such a high standard.”

Dr Fikree said that within the emergency system the government of Dubai would develop a trauma system. “We have one of the highest rates of accidental death per capita in the world.

“And it has been documented that wherever trauma centres have been introduced in the world the rate of accidental death has been reduced by between 30% and 50%,” Dr Fikree pointed out.

“So, one of the goals of the conference, for us and for the region, is to develop a trauma system within the emergency system. For example, session one on day two will cover ‘Trauma Centre Designation - What does it mean’.

In other words, when you have a trauma centre what are your responsibilities? What are you aiming to achieve? “In the United States, for example, you have level one trauma, level two trauma… and there are specific requirements for each level and it all has to be accredited.”

Dr Fikree added that there are several workshops covering pre-hospital trauma and medical support being run in the days ahead of the conference. He said there will be visiting experts to conduct training, “but as well as acquiring this knowledge we are also being taught to be instructors ourselves, which most notably will enable us to become a centre of learning in this regard.”

There will also be an exhibition of emergency medicine and catastrophe management related products at the event.

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