The system of ambulance emergency transport in Addis Ababa is underdeveloped and inefficient. There is a general lack of ambulances and it takes a long time for them to arrive, most Ethiopians prefer using the car of a neighbor or a friend in emergency situations. As the refugees often do not have such contacts DICAC has its own emergency hotline that is open 24/7.
DICAC-RRAD office assigns one person from its medical staff as duty officer every week. This person will always be available on the emergency telephone number. The duty officer will assess the situation and make the decision that urgent transport to hospital is needed.
When the duty officer decides that emergency transport is needed she or he will send an ambulance from the main office. The demand for transport is high and persistent but the capacity is only enough for those emergency cases it is intended for. Mainly the transport is provided for bedridden patients, pregnant women and new refugees who have an emergency medical status according to the UNHCR.
During the days there are also care givers on standby, these are refugees who are volunteering to help others who are sick. The care givers are given a special training and then accompany the drivers in the ambulances. They also wait with the patients in the hospital to make sure that they get help and stays in contact with the main office to get approval for the treatment. Each care giver works one week a month and there are always two of them working at the same time.
The emergency support faces key challenges. There is a lack of ambulances as well as care givers. It is a very important service though which also UNHCR has acknowledged by providing DICAC with the ambulances.