2006 News Story

Elaborate emergency and health care arrangements made for the Hajj

Saudi authorities have implemented exceptional emergency response measures for the Hajj, including additional firefighters, emergency vehicles, as well as rescue boats and divers in the event a flash flood occurs, the Arab News reported yesterday.

Civil Defense officials in Makkah have mobilized around 12,000 officials, 3,332 vehicles and heavy equipment and a dozen helicopters to assist in any emergency, head of the Civil Defense in Makkah Lt. Gen. Saad Al-Tuwaijeri, said.

The Interior Ministry previously reported that about 50,000 security and emergency personnel would be deployed in and around Makkah to respond to any emergencies.

In recent weeks Civil Defense authorities have conducted special training programs and drills, Al-Tuwaijeri said. They have also built three high-capacity shelters, one each in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah.

“Our workers are geared up to launch the evacuation operation at the first sign of an emerging calamity,” Al-Tuwaijeri told the Arab News.

The Civil Defense has increased its inspections of buildings that house pilgrims during the Hajj, Al-Tuwaijeri noted. So far, authorities have discovered around 6,000 violations for this season and shut down 80 buildings for safety violations.

Health care facilities have also mobilized in preparation for the Hajj.  The Ministry of Health has readied 21 hospitals at the holy sites – including seven specialized clinics at Arafat – that can accommodate 3,932 patients.  The 182-bed Mina Medical Emergency Tower, opened yesterday by Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, is fully operational. 

The Ministry has employed a staff of 9,600 physicians, nurses, technicians, drivers and workers to provide care for the pilgrims. Sixty-five small ambulances equipped with sophisticated medical equipment stand ready.

Additionally, the Saudi Red Crescent Society has more than 300 ambulances ready to serve the more than 106 first aid centers and 15 permanent facilities. Six of those permanent facilities are run by the Saudi Red Crescent Society.

In order to assist the pilgrims, around 2,300 scouts from Saudi schools and universities will perform their annual roles as guides, information officers and general support. The scouts can be found at the Hajj General Services Camps, which are supervised by the Saudi Arabian Scouts Society.