UAE emergency services look to rescue surfboards to save flood victims

Flotation aids will be used to pluck survivors from water following record storm in July

Styrofoam rescue boards are Dubai Civil Defence's latest flood response, inspired by the summer's heavy rains. Ali Al Shouk / The National
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Styrofoam rescue boards to help in the evacuation of flooded areas have been made at a Dubai Civil Defence workshop.

Maj Abdullah Al Merri, deputy director of the workshop, said the boards are a good alternative to jet skis.

He said these devices - which resemble lifeguard surfboards - can be used to reach people trapped in valleys and low-lying areas when boats or jet skis cannot go.

“The idea came after the Fujairah floods in July, as we noticed jet skis were jammed in muddy or shallow waters. We came up with an easy and simple idea to rescue people by using boards with hand straps,” he said.

Seven people died and 800 were rescued in the July floods.

Dubai Civil Defence has also bought two Mercedes-Benz Unimog lorries, 4x4s with off-road capability, to help with rescue missions. Photo: Ali Al Shouk / The National

Maj Al Merri said many tests were conducted, and the boards will now be used by emergency response crews.

“We have 12 boards and each can accommodate four people at one time. We are preparing for any emergency,” he said.

The boards are not powered. They will be attached to a rescue boat or jet ski and can be thrown to people who are trapped. They have hand straps that people can latch on to, and rescue teams and divers can pull the board and its passengers to safety.

The Civil Defence has put the boards on display along with the Mercedes-Benz Unimog lorry, a 4x4 with off-road capability, at the second International Search and Rescue conference and exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

The vehicle carries a 5,000-litre water tank.

“The suspension system is for off-road. It has eight gears and is useful to control fires in the desert,” said Maj Mohammed bu Farousha, director of the technical committee at Dubai Civil Defence.

The department has two, one at Hatta fire station and the other in Al Lisaili, which is in Dubai Silicon Oasis.

“It is a very efficient vehicle in tough terrains. It will help to respond quickly to fires and save lives in the desert,” he said.

Three rescue planes were also on display.

Fujairah floods in July - in pictures

Updated: November 22, 2022, 10:35 AM