Senior Dubai Police officer reveals challenges of leading crucial rescue missions

Patience must be shown to emergency teams as they go about their work, Col Al Hammadi says

Dubai Police's search and rescue department competes in the UAE Rescue Challenge 2024. Photo: Dubai Police
Powered by automated translation

A senior Dubai Police officer has told of the challenges of leading crucial search and rescue missions where every second counts and lives are on the line.

Col Khaled Al Hammadi, director of Dubai Police’s search and rescue department, said emergency call-outs "leave a mark" on officers seeking to protect the public.

He also spoke of the importance of showing patience with the rescue team as they go about their work, especially during adverse weather such as those in the UAE this week.

“Major incidents leave a mark because of the large number of victims,” Col Al Hammadi said. “They [people] need to remember that a rescuer is also a person with a family waiting for them to return home safely."

With more than 30 years' experience, Col Al Hammadi has been part of UAE rescue teams that took part in operations during international disasters such as the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan and Morocco as well as the floods in Libya.

The team has been involved in missions that range from saving people trapped in cars, lifts or their homes, as well as vehicles stuck in sand, locked cars, fires and incidents of people falling.

Other call-outs involved chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence, where department members conducted sweeps to ensure safety at a variety of sites.

Sharpening skills

Col Al Hammadi was making his comments as two teams from the department were competing at the UAE Rescue Challenge. The event, organised by Dubai Police in association with the World Rescue Organisation, took place this week.

Eight teams were taking part in the event, including search and rescue crews from Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

They were faced with several scenarios, including dealing with serious car accidents.

Col Al Hammadi said it was not only a test of their physical skills but also their mental agility when confronted by unforeseen circumstances.

UAE Rescue Challenge pushes participants to their limits

UAE Rescue Challenge pushes participants to their limits

“Before the start, teams are isolated and all communication devices are confiscated to ensure they are unaware of the upcoming scenarios, mirroring the unpredictability of real-life rescue missions," he said.

The post-challenge review process includes a five-member referee committee discussing performance with each team and pointing out mistakes and strengths.

This is followed by a psychological assessment to ensure team members are not emotionally affected by the harrowing scenes they encounter, a practice standard in Dubai Police's post-mission protocol.

Col Al Hammadi said the search and rescue team was making inroads when it came to diversity as well, with five female members currently serving and an additional 20 expected to join by the end of the year.

“A comprehensive training and evaluation will happen before they join," he said.

Dubai Police's search and rescueteam were called to more than 140 traffic incidents last year, which included 38 fatalities and more than 90 serious injuries.

The incidents comprised 128 collisions, 12 crashes, two car fires and one case of a car falling. There were 69 moderate and 78 minor injuries.

The group was called on to attend more than 5,300 incidents in 2023.

Updated: February 15, 2024, 7:54 AM