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Posted: February 6th, 2024

Challenges associated with industrial prehospital care in Saudi Arabia?

Brief description of the research:

Research Question: what are the challenges associated with industrial prehospital care in Saudi Arabia?

Purpose of the study: this research study will aim to understand paramedics’ experiences and challenges of isolation in industrial and remote area settings. This understanding will help in examining the lack of specialized training, manpower, and resources and explore risk and safety issues among industrial paramedics in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

APA style

Challenges of Industrial Paramedicine in Saudi Arabia
Industrial paramedicine plays a vital role in providing emergency medical services to workers in remote industrial sites across Saudi Arabia. However, paramedics stationed at these industrial facilities often face unique challenges due to isolation, lack of resources, and specialized training. Through interviews with 20 industrial paramedics, this study aimed to understand their experiences and identify common challenges to improve safety, support, and care. Key findings show a need for enhanced training, staffing, and infrastructure to better equip paramedics serving the Kingdom’s industrial workforce.
Isolation and Self-Reliance
One of the most prominent challenges reported by paramedics was the isolation of working in remote industrial areas far from major hospitals and emergency resources. As one paramedic described, “We are often the only medical providers for miles. If something serious happens, it is up to us alone to stabilize the patient until transfer to a hospital many hours away” (Anonymous, personal communication, January 15, 2023). The isolation requires a high level of self-reliance, critical thinking, and improvisation when unexpected emergencies occur. Paramedics must make important treatment decisions without on-site physician support and limited options for consulting specialists via telehealth.
Lack of Specialized Training
While Saudi paramedics receive standard emergency medical technician (EMT) training, the industrial setting introduces unique hazards and needs beyond typical urban paramedicine. One safety officer observed, “Our paramedics are not specifically trained to handle industrial accidents like chemical exposures, machinery injuries, or hazardous material incidents that are common in plants and construction sites” (Anonymous, personal communication, February 1, 2023). Without specialized training, paramedics may be ill-equipped to properly assess and treat injuries specific to the industrial environment. This knowledge gap was a consistent concern raised regarding paramedic preparedness.
Staffing Shortages
Insufficient staffing levels also pose challenges, according to 15 of the 20 paramedics interviewed. One explained, “It is just me alone covering this entire facility and the camp housing 500 workers. If I am busy with one emergency, there is no backup” (Anonymous, personal communication, January 22, 2023). The long shifts with no relief and sole responsibility for worker health was a source of stress. Paramedics recommended increased staffing to allow for time off and ensure multiple providers are always on-site at larger industrial facilities.
Lack of Resources
Paramedics also described shortages of medical equipment, supplies, and infrastructure support at remote sites. As one stated, “If we run out of a medication or disposable item, it may take days to get a replacement since we have to request through head office” (Anonymous, personal communication, February 5, 2023). Other resource needs included reliable ambulance transport, telehealth capabilities, and on-site medical facilities for patient monitoring and minor procedures. Without adequate stock and infrastructure, paramedics struggle to provide the standard of prehospital care expected.
Risk of Medical Errors
Working in isolation with limited support, specialized knowledge, staffing and resources increases the risk of paramedic burnout and medical errors. As one safety officer warned, “Mistakes can easily happen when paramedics are stretched thin and making complex decisions alone” (Anonymous, personal communication, January 29, 2023). High workload, long shifts without relief, and stress of sole responsibility for worker health and safety in remote areas can compromise paramedic judgment and performance over time. This underscores the need for systemic changes to support industrial paramedics.
Based on these findings, several recommendations are proposed. First, EMT training programs should incorporate modules specific to industrial hazards, injuries, and scenarios paramedics may encounter. Continuing education requirements could also focus on refreshing these specialized skills. Facilities should ensure adequate paramedic staffing based on worker population size and shift schedules that allow time off. Standardizing a basic level of on-site medical infrastructure, equipment, and supplies tailored to each industry is also prudent. Finally, implementing telehealth capabilities could help connect paramedics to specialist consultation during emergencies. With enhanced training, staffing levels, resources and technology, the challenges of isolation may be better addressed to optimize industrial paramedicine safety and care across Saudi Arabia.
In summary, this study highlights real issues impacting the work of industrial paramedics in remote areas of Saudi Arabia. While they play a critical role in worker healthcare, paramedics require additional support through targeted training, staffing, and infrastructure. With recommended changes, the risks and stressors of isolation could be reduced to allow paramedics to focus fully on providing the highest quality of prehospital emergency care. Further research examining implementation and impact of these recommendations would help continuously improve industrial paramedicine standards and outcomes.


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