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EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis

When efficiency makes all the difference


"I was really distressed. I didn’t think they would arrive so quickly. I tried to wake him up, do something and they knocked on my door."

Lulu, 72 years old, lives with her husband Mahmoud, 85, in the area of Hazmieh, Lebanon. Mahmoud suffers from diabetes: not long ago, his sugar levels skyrocketed and he fainted. “I got really scared,” says Lulu, “so I called the Red Cross to take him to the hospital. They arrived here really quickly.”

Due to worsening variations in his blood sugar levels, Lulu had taken her husband to the doctor who had prescribed medicines to keep the situation under control. One day something went wrong: Mahmoud started slurrying and collapsed. Lulu was very prompt in calling the Lebanese Red Cross Emergency Dispatch Center, which sent an ambulance right away. “When I called, they immediately got here and did first aid, put him on the stretcher and took him to the ambulance. They drove him to the hospital and made sure he was taken care of,” she explains. “They told me to call them if I needed anything… he would have gone into a coma or got partially paralised, hadn’t they arrived so quickly,” she continues.

Thanks to the support of the EU, through the EU Trust Fund, the Lebanese Red Cross Emergency Dispatch Center was rehabilitated to respond to emergencies and dispatch ambulance transport. The center, which dispatches EMS ambulances on the basis of agreed protocols and availability, has undergone significant modifications since 2013.

Besides offering training for staff and developing computerised systems which facilitate the handling of emergency calls, the center also offers a Peer Support Project, which is designed to encourage staff and volunteers to develop self-care strategies and has the objective of developing a support system they can rely on. When witnessing difficult human conditions or harsh situations, it is important for the staff and volunteers to be able to deal with how the latter impact them on the personal level: the Peer Support Project offers the non-judgemental support they need.

Lulu is very grateful to the volunteers and to the center’s efficiency. Without the dispatch center, “I would have had to take him in a taxi or call the firefighters, but I don’t know if they would have made it so quickly,” she adds.