Firefighting with a Feminine Touch!

On my facebook account, I saw one of my contacts being tagged in a video of a television interview.  The cutoff title said in Arabic, “Saudi Females working behind…,” and the video thumbnail showed what appeared like a young female wearing the traditional black scarf and abaya (dress cover).  Out of curiosity, I clicked on the video to watch it and I’m glad I did.  The interview was on Al-Aan TV channel with a young Saudi female who was a pioneer in firefighting training, which is a strictly male profession in Saudi Arabia.  This young female is Ms. Ena’am Adnan Al-Abbasi Al-Hashimi.  After graduating from high school, she attended the female security and safety training program at, what seems like a private civil defense foundation.  Ms. Al-Hashimi continued her training and attended several advanced training programs until she became a certified trainer in self-defense and firefighting.

According to an article by Sahar Khan of Al-Madinah newspaper on April 18, 2009, the foundation provides training for females in firefighting, rescue, first-aid, and self-defense.  After basic training, participants can choose to specialize in more specific fields for advanced training.  When the participants graduate, they become qualified to work in the their chosen fields.  According to the article, the foundation created the first qualified team of females in firefighting and evacuation.  Additionally, the foundation has the first team of females qualified in fire source investigation.  The focus of the training is proper reaction in case of an emergency.  My understanding is that these programs are publicly open to all females.

If you’re not from the Saudi society or familiar with it, you might be asking yourself why is this worthy of writing about?

I think this is a major public health advancement in Saudi Arabia.  In our society, it is well known that genders are separated in most public places and facilities, such as governmental ministries, schools, universities, and party halls.  In such settings, males are not allowed in female-only facilities.  Due to such settings, there have been reports of some tragedies because an all-male emergency crew was not allowed into an all-female facility.  For example, in 2002, an article in the Arab News newspaper reported on a fire that broke out in one of the female schools in Makkah.  Sadly, as a result, 14 girls died and some 50 others were injured.  One of the major reasons that lead to such tragedy was what the article said,

Al-Nadwah daily quoted one survivor as saying that while the girls were dying inside the locked gates of the school, the Civil Defense and the Commission for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice kept arguing outside over their respective jurisdiction. Some passersby rushed to the scene carrying water buckets only to be stopped by the Commission’s men, who did not want males to enter the school.

Despite the fact that in the Islamic religion, religious boundaries can be crossed in critical and emergency situations, such tragedies still occur because some lack the experience, knowledge, and training.

With this sad story, one would be left to wonder, how things could have been different, if the first responders were females?  How could it have been different, if schools were required to perform fire drills routinely?  How could it have been different, if the female teachers and staff were properly trained in first-aid and safety procedures?  How could thing be different, if anyone working with children is required to have certain safety and first-aid training?

It gives me some comfort knowing people like Ms. Al-Hashimi, are taking the first steps to answer such questions.  It is good to know that Saudi organizations exist to train females on such invaluable skills.  Some might argue there is much needed to be done, I would say, however, small efforts must be commended and recognized.  In-sha’Allah we’ll hear more and more good news on public health improvements and actions in the near future.

Note: If you know the website for the mentioned organization, or any other organizations, giving such invaluable training, please post them in the comments or email them to me so I can update this post with them.  Thank you.

UPDATE:

Ms. Ena’am Al-Hashimi sent me the information on the organization and I thought it would be important to share with you for those who would like to join the program, and I really hope you do!

Name of the organization: Civil Protection Est. (C.P.E)مؤسسة الحماية المدنية

Description: It’s Security and Safety Est.
Supply – Implementation – Testing – Operation – Maintenance – Training for (Female & Male) (Firefighting – rescue – First aid – Evacuation – Self Defense – Civil Protection )

مؤسسة أمن وسلامة

توريد – تنفيذ – فحص – معايرة – تشغيل – صيانة – تدريب (للنساء والرجال) ( اطفاء حريق – إنقاذ – إسعافات أولية – إخلاء – دفاع عن النفس – حماية مدنية) و

Contact Information:
Email: Cvl-Pro@hotmail.com
Office: +966 2 6686183
Location: Al-Madena Road – Al-Kaki building
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=18466937295&ref=ts

You can find the interview at this link: http://www.alaan.tv/ar/videos/video/asg-92.html?m=programs&c=12&pId=500

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Emad Monshi on March 3, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Its a great news, and thank you for writing about such development in Saudi Arabia. Despite the happenies I felt regarding the formation of this Saudi female firefighters team, I’m not optimistic about the safety of our female schools at all. The infrastructures everywhere in Saudi Arabia are poor, and the training of our male firefighters is poor, and the government policies are poor. Its just like a driver being happy to drive a clean car on a moutain road with a puncture in all four wheels!

    Reply

    • Posted by Ashraf Faden on March 4, 2010 at 2:03 am

      Emad, thank you very much for your comment.
      I do agree with you that looking at the current situation does not give a really good picture. However, having the initiative there to have females train on basic first-aid and CPR is one step in the right direction. It is obvious that policies take a long time to be formulated and then implemented. Even though authorities have a major role in correcting the situation, I think there is also the role of the public which could go faster.
      I really hope the word spreads fast about the availability of such important programs. I also hope that people, males and females, take advantage of them. At least, in case of an emergency, they have the tools to react appropriately. The first response to an emergency situation could mean the difference between life and death.
      Looking at the schools in the U.S. shows there is so much to be done for our schools, but anything good now should be embraced and built upon.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Megan on December 9, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Wow, such a huge issue I never thought about! Does the same apply to ambulances or police? What about hospitals?

    Reply

    • Posted by Ashraf Faden on December 9, 2011 at 1:40 am

      Yes, to my knowledge, there are no female EMT’s on ambulances and for sure no female police officers. Hospitals, on the other hand, are fine with many female medical staff from nurses to techs to physicians.

      Reply

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