A Saudi woman was allegedly refused an ambulance service because she did not have a male guardian present with her in the house.
Salma Al-Shuhab had woken up in the middle of the night with severe headache and called the Saudi Red Crescent, only to have her request rejected when the call center learned that she lived alone.
“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,” she said. “I had to look through my phonebook for 15 minutes until I found the number of a driver. Is this humane?”
Ahmed Al-Enzi, official spokesman for the Saudi Red Crescent in Riyadh, said ambulance services are in sync with international standards.
“The organization extends medical help regardless of race or gender around the clock,” he said. “We will launch an extensive investigation into this complaint. We will also check the call log that day.”