MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s first female ambulance driver Sarah Khalaf Al-Enezi took an early interest in helping the injured and saving lives, tending to the wounds and scratches of family members when she was a child.
But getting behind the wheel of an ambulance, and in a country where women have only recently started driving, is a different prospect altogether. “It’s no easy task,” she told Arab News. “It’s difficult and requires a great mental presence and speed in decision-making.”
Al-Enezi learned to drive in Amman eight years ago while studying at the University of Science and Technology on a scholarship. She obtained her Jordanian license and took the first step toward achieving her dream.
She experienced astonishment, and even disapproval, from Saudi society as she pursued her calling. But overcoming such challenges, not to mention the pressure that comes with this frontline role, has been worth it.
“Being the first female ambulance driver in Saudi Arabia is an indescribable feeling. My field of work is a healing balm for my soul and a motivation to be more committed to helping the injured and saving lives,” she said.
Family encouragement and support helped lead her to become a pioneer in Saudi Arabia. As a child, she loved emergency work.
“I used to keep wound patches in my small room and, when a family member was injured, they used to call me immediately to help. I cleaned and dressed the wounds, and this was a source of my pride. Everyone was calling me at the time the ‘home doctor.’”
An initial factor that prompted her to become an ambulance driver was the coronavirus outbreak. Al-Enezi, as an ambulance crew member, is one of the first health professionals to face patients.
She remembered her first emergency case, transferring someone from King Khalid Airport in Riyadh to a quarantine base in Al-Diriyah Hospital. She described it as one of the real tests of her life.
“The images of my family, my children and my mother were always on my mind, and I did not know precisely what awaited me at the time.”
Her role has made her passionate about helping people, especially when it comes to saving lives. Al-Enezi said that she, along with the rest of the Kingdom’s ambulance crews, represented a gateway to hope for the sick and injured.
She said she was happy with what she had achieved and that Saudi women could present their skills, expertise and creativity at all levels, especially if they were given the chance and were trusted.