With the camping season now well underway, the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has urged the public to protect themselves from camping-related illnesses and injuries, many of which are treated by the HMC-run Sealine Medical Clinic located in the south of Qatar near Mesaieed City.
The clinic works from 3pm on Thursdays until 5pm on Saturdays and will remain open until mid-April. This will mean that medical care, and specifically, emergency medical services, are available during the busy camping season.
“In addition to being open each weekend, the clinic also provides services during public holidays," Dr Hamid Ghareeb, a consultant at HMC’s Medical Administration Department and medical supervisor of the Sealine Clinic, said.
"We care for patients with both minor health concerns, as well as emergency cases. The clinic is equipped with a helicopter landing area to transfer patients who have urgent medical needs or severe injuries to hospital," he said.
Dr Hamid Ghareeb
“We treat patients with a variety of complaints and ailments that range from fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and cough, as well as more severe conditions, including treatment of wounds and burns, intestinal infections, asthma, bone fractures, and heart attacks,” Ghareeb noted.
Ghareeb said it was important for campers to take proactive steps to prevent accidents, noting the importance of not burning coal or firewood, or using gas-powered generators or portable gas camp stoves in enclosed spaces, including inside tents. He said barbecues, gas cookers, and heaters can give off carbon monoxide and are a leading cause of carbon-monoxide related poisoning.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning is so dangerous because the signs and symptoms can be easy to miss. Many people with mild carbon monoxide poisoning think they have food poisoning or the flu and dismiss the symptoms.
“Symptoms of carbon monoxide can include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, and fatigue. Some individuals may also experience chest pain, especially those with coronary heart disease. Symptoms can start to appear within five to 20 minutes of exposure,” Ghareeb warned.
He recommends only using approved heating devices, which he said can be easily identified as they include an approval number or mark. He also recommends having a separate area for cooking, with a minimum distance of 5m between a tent or camper and fire pit.
He also recommends that outdoor fireplaces or fire pits are at least 60cm deep and says campers should use fire retardant tents and ensure they have a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, and a basic first-aid kit that includes antiseptics, disinfectants and burn care supplies.
Officials from HMC are also reminding the public about the risks of unsafe ATV use, noting that in December and January there is traditionally an increase in the number of patients injured while riding such vehicles.
Saleh al-Mejareh al-Marri, operations manager for HMC’s Ambulance Service, said many of the victims of ATV accidents are children under the age of 18. He said all ATV drivers and passengers should be fully-clothed, wearing goggles, gloves, and boots, and using a helmet every time they operate an ATV.
Saleh al-Mejareh al-Marri
Al-Marri noted that during the camping season, in addition to its regular round-the-clock emergency coverage in the Sealine area, the Ambulance Service has added two ambulances and two 4x4 emergency vehicles, which will be permanently stationed in the area.
He said there are 11 ambulances stationed in the Sealine area during peak times and noted that the Ambulance Service is ready to transport emergency cases from the sand dune area to the clinic or the helicopter landing area, as required.