A Saudi woman was reportedly denied ambulance service because she didn’t have a man present at her house.
The woman, Salma Al-Shuhab, called for an ambulance recently after she woke up with a severe headache. After being asked a few questions by the operator, Al-Shuhab was told an ambulance could not be sent to her home. When she asked why, the operator told her there needed to be a man present at her home for an ambulance crew to be sent.
“I couldn’t just go out onto the street looking for a taxi at 4 a.m., so I called the ambulance because I couldn’t bear the pain until dawn,” she said. “The employee asked me routine questions, including my age, my address and other details. It was only when he learned that I live alone that he said he could not send me an ambulance. He then left the phone for a few minutes and came back to tell me the same thing.
“I asked him if I should be left to die,” Al-Shuhab continued. “I had to look through my phonebook for 15 minutes until I found the number of a driver. Is this humane?”
She eventually made it to the hospital through her own efforts. When asked about the incident, Saudi Red Crescent spokesman Ahmad Al-Enzi said the country’s ambulance service “provides help regardless of race or gender around the clock.”
“We will launch an extensive investigation into this complaint,” he said.
This story may remind readers of Amna Bawazeer, the King Saudi University student who died of a heart attack after ambulance crews were temporarily denied access to her school’s all female campus.