Three helipads to be built at Dubai Metro stations to aid medics

Construction of the helipads will begin this month at the Rashidiya, Al Qusais and Jebel Ali metro depot stations, the Roads and Transport Authority said.

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DUBAI // Three helipads to be built at Metro stations will speed up emergency service response times, experts said.

Construction of the helipads will begin this month at Rashidiya, Al Qusais and Jebel Ali metro depot stations, the Roads and Transport Authority said.

“All three will begin operation simultaneously after we get approval from the General Civil Aviation Authority,” an RTA spokesman said.

The helipads will cover the daily routes of millions of commuters on Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed roads and communities nearby.

“It will serve a dual purpose: one in responsiveness and ability to act if something was to happen on the metro. Also, to access neighbourhoods and to evacuate people,” said Roger Cruickshank, director of strategic transport planning at Atkins, the engineering company behind the Dubai Metro.

“A connection close to Jebel Ali works if there are concerns about access to neighbouring labour areas. The depots are placed with Rashidiya to the north and Jebel Ali in the south.

“The RTA would have looked at how to make the city more resilient. This planning is all about building cities of the future, in which infrastructure and transport play a key part.”

Experts welcomed the move and called for more extraction points.

“The ideal response time when you dial an emergency service is about four minutes but this is not happening in Dubai because it is very difficult in peak-hour traffic,” said Subhash Joshi, Frost and Sullivan’s head of automotive and transportation in the Middle East North Africa.

“Dubai needs more than 10 locations like this. The number of accidents that happen here is high compared with European standards, so it becomes vital to airlift people in traffic conditions.”

During the recent Eid break, 11 people died and 84 were injured in 38 traffic incidents between September 23 and 26 across the country.

In Dubai alone, more than 20 were injured in crashes, according to government figures. A total of 462 traffic incidents was registered in Dubai, according to Dubai Police.

While building helipads near the Metro may be a first for Dubai, several countries, including the US, UK, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, have designated areas for emergency extraction.

Connecting the helipads with hospitals, private or public, would be a vital part of the initiative’s success.

“Every second counts in an emergency, and helipads will reduce precious seconds from response time,” said Dr Shajir Gaffar, chief executive of VPS Healthcare, which runs hospitals in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman. VPS has plans to launch air evacuation services in Dubai and the capital.

rtalwar@thenational.ae

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