Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Monday, May 13, 2013

Driving in Saudi Part 2 - Crashing

I left home this morning at 8:00 am sharp, I entered the highway at about 8:05. 4 minutes later at 8:09, I was sitting in the middle of the Highway, perpendicular to traffic in a smashed car. 

I headed for work like I do every day, nothing special at all. I entered the freeway and began to try and make my way two lanes to the left, I got as far as the middle and found my progress blocked by one of the large Pakistani style decorative trucks directly in front of me, those trucks are big, colorful and nothing you want to be behind. They are old, slow and its impossible to see past them with their size and the clouds of black smoke that they cough out as they chug down the road. My progress leftward was also blocked by a nice newer looking white BMW. As we moved down the road, the BMW moved in behind me, I assumed, to exit the highway at the upcoming exit, but whatever the cause, it was good news for me! I hit my signal, saw a white Camry in the lane behind where the BMW had come from, and moved into the lane. The next thing I heard was the squeal of tires with locked up breaks, my rear-view showed the flashing head lights of the Camry inches off of my bumper. Apparently this was why the BMW had moved! The Camry had obviously been wanting to get past the BMW, and now was on my bumper, lights flashing away, horn blaring constantly. I accelerated as much as the little car would allow me, quickly getting up to 110 kph. I made it to the front of the large truck and began to move into the right lane. Before I could get over, the Camry made a fast move around me, pulled in front of me by a few feet. And then locked up his breaks, causing his tires to leave marks and white smoke to come from his wheel wells. I locked up my breaks and tried to swerve around him, I didn't succeed. The car went into a full spin as I tried to correct my over-steer, I found myself spinning around the highway, saw the wall, saw the airbag deflating and felt the car lurch to a stop. I sat there stunned, both arms locked out straight, hands on the wheel, waiting for the next impact. But it never came. The clock on the dashboard was glowing 8:09. The radio was now playing the news obnoxiously loud. My cigarette had disappeared. I opened the drivers door and stepped out into my whole new reality.

The white Camry with the dark tint windows was gone. 

Traffic was as usual heavy, now with a small Hyundai (even smaller than normal) blocking the middle lane, it slowed to a crawl. I called my boss and then my mechanic, I made it to the other side of the car and began to direct traffic to opposite sides of the car. Many men stopped and asked if I was OK, I said "aiwa shukran", they said "Alhamdulilah" and drove on. The police arrived about 5 minutes later. They were great, very friendly. They took a minute to survey the scene, make some notes and then we pushed the car off to the side of the road. One of the traffic officers ran over to a construction site nearby and promptly returned with 4 workers, a wheelbarrow full of dirt and brooms to try and cover the oil that had spread into a 4 qt. puddle. I handed over my license and the Car registration. My Mechanic arrived, surveyed the damage, smiled and said "no problem", "no worry". He gave me a ride to work, and went to the police station to finish the paperwork and pick up the report.

I'm not really at fault, but then again it was technically a one car accident, I'm not in any trouble, but I might be on the hook for the totaled car, I don't know yet. My boss and co-workers have told me never mind the cost, it's the cost of walking away from a Road Traffic Accident on the highway in Saudi Arabia with my life. I wish I'd had the wherewithal to take a picture of the mess, you'll just have to imagine a small car with no front end and all of its engine fluids on the highway.  A frustrated and flustered American standing next to it. 

P.S. If anybody can identify the driver of the white Toyota Camry, with the dark windows and no other distinguishing marks, driven by an unknown person of unknown nationality...let me know. :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saudi Paramedics

As most of my readers know, I'm an American Expat, here in the Kingdom to train Paramedics. My students are all Saudi, and the first group are preparing to graduate and move onto their internships.

For the most part, were going to be turning lose a great group of guys (and girls, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms, for a whole 'nother blog post). They will begin their internship year in September, check in with us monthly, and be given some pretty intensive on the job training. At the end of the year, they will take their exam with the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. Upon passing they will be licensed as Paramedics, designated as Specialists and will be the people who respond to your emergency, (God forbid you have one!).

What I wanted to tell you about though, was the great bunch of Saudi Paramedics I've met lately, yes that's right they already exist. Lets break them down and see what they're made of.

Skills: 1st rate, every one of them that I've seen, have first rate skills. Just as good, if not better than any American paramedic.

Language: High quality Arabic and English, fully able to understand and communicate in the two most commonly used languages in the Kingdom.

Years of training: 4-6 years, yes that's right, 4-6 years! They have knowledge sets closer to that of a PA than a Paramedic. Many were initially educated here in the Kingdom and then sent to the US for further training. They've trained at Eastern Kentucky University University of Maryland Baltimore County  and others.

Certifications: NREMT-P/NRP, PHTLS, American Heart Association BLS, ACLS, PALS Many also carry the CCEMT-P though I've yet to see one with the elusive and exclusive FP-C, or CC-P. However they also carry multiple optional certs that are industry appropriate.

Where they work: This is where it gets a little funny, if you want to see Saudi Paramedics with the above resumes, chances are you'll have to be dying or very seriously injured. They work on Helicopters with the SRCA and its contract helicopter services (Alpha Star and PHI). They work for the National Guard Hospital, and the Security Forces Hospital. Pretty much, they work exclusively for the government.

In summary, the Saudi Paramedics I've had the pleasure of meeting over the past month have been first rate providers that can take care of a loved one of mine any day. I'm hoping, that the program I've been working with is going to give the Kingdom a lot more of them to go around!