ASTANA – Medical emergencies, panic, nightlong rides with an ambulance; one must have stamina and a strong mind for things like that.
A humble and kind-hearted entrepreneur from Atyrau devoted several years to the serious and hard work of volunteering at an emergency medical care station. In an exclusive interview with The Astana Times, Arman Kassymov shared how and why he made this decision and the challenges faced.
“I was riding with an ambulance all night. When you stabilise a patient’s condition and hand him over to the doctors’ hands, no words can describe the feeling when a patient is waiving a hand at us while being taken in. When later you meet him or her on the street alive and healthy, you realise this was not for nothing, even though my contribution is not as big as those of a doctor and a paramedic,” he said.
Kassymov enrolled in Astrakhan State Medical Academy after school, but due to family difficulties was forced to abandon studies and pick another specialty. Now 27, he has a diploma from a Western higher education institution and specialty in the oil field.
“However, the dream remained. I was working rotation shifts at an artificial ‘D’ island of Kashagan offshore field when I began to assist an ambulance. I went out to help an ambulance when the shift was resting,” he said. “Everything was starting with the question ‘What did you do for your motherland?’ and at that moment I realised an ambulance lacks people who could help. I voluntarily asked to be helping them free of charge.”
Initially Kassymov performed simple tasks that did not require a medical education, such as bringing and taking things, running to get stretchers and washing the vehicle.
He was convinced that by helping the ambulance he was helping society; however, after trying once Kassymov was unable to stop.
“’I developed a strong addiction to this job; I fell in love with it,”’ he said. “I believed that even simply cleaning up the car salon or helping a mechanic to replace a light bulb in a headlight or performing any other task, the ambulance crew would be able to depart at least a couple minutes earlier and even a minute means a lot in this job. All kinds of specialists are available at emergency care services, but yet an extra hand will certainly not be redundant. I was also very annoyed that there are those among us who always criticise everything and everyone. I wanted to contribute to developing our country and decided to act and not make empty conversation.”’
When he got a call to depart with the ambulance team he noticed how hard it is for them to work, such as road issues and only few cars giving way to an emergency van, even with signal lights shining. He recalled one situation when a person was being taken to a hospital in grave condition, but an ambulance stood in a traffic jam and no car would make way for it.
The team also had a hard time finding locations in the private territory of some city outskirts, where street names and numbers are usually not available. In some instances those calling give the wrong address or do not know the address, forcing the ambulance crew look for them.
In his opinion, many ambulance calls could be avoided.
“’For example, a low fever is not an emergency in my opinion. I would rather go to a clinic on my own, by taxi,”’ said Kassymov.
Once a call was received and dispatcher was told a man broke his arm. When the ambulance arrived, it turned out he simply pinched his finger when closing a cupboard.
“He wanted to find out whether his nail would turn black because of an accidental pinch. Terrible! And yet at that very moment, someone seriously ill needs help and is waiting for an ambulance. I often felt that the work of medical emergency services was confused with those of taxi drivers, because as ill luck would have it an emergency call comes after such false call. Having arrived there, it was sometimes difficult to explain where you have been and why it took so long to get where you had to,”’ he added.
Kassymov found it hard to describe the feelings and emotions he experienced while being with the ambulance crew.
“’But the more I went to see them, the more I was drawn in and a month later I clearly understood that I cannot be without this work,”’ he added.
The volunteer likes the people with whom he serves.
“’Those people are truly fans of their work. And it is not important where an emergency medical station is from, which city of our country. In every city, people who work for an ambulance are only those who were indeed born for this job. It was a great honour to work with them and I am proud of it,” said Kassymov.
He added an ambulance is a calling and enormous responsibility where everyone can help.
“’It is not hard; simply giving way on road and not calling an ambulance over trifles is enough. Thereby, you may really save someone’s life,”’ he said.
Working in an ambulance fills him with optimism.
“’There is a lot of kindness and a sea of positive emotions. A simple thank you and a patient’s smile cost dearly,”’ the volunteer noted humbly.
Kassymov recalled one medical crew performing resuscitative measures on a man inside the ambulance. The team managed to get him to a hospital and transfer him to the doctors.
“’Some time later, I met the man on the street together with his daughter. She recognised me; they walked up and the father says to me ‘Thank you! You saved me. I had time to see my grandchild.’ He shook my hand and gave me a warm hug.”
“’The merit is not mine. It is primarily the highest leadership, then an ambulance team and I was just alongside them,”’ he said with a smile. “’Such moments give strength to move on further. Every ambulance worker is a superhero to me. They accomplish small feats every day. I see it all by being near them and when I tell them about it, they simply smile at me.”
Kassymov is currently involved in improving an appliance he assembled together with his colleagues. The changes prevent attempts at fuel and lubricant theft and make some processes automatic.
He also saw how injections are done and at home practiced on himself and later on his relatives. He can now do shots on his own at home, but under no circumstances as a volunteer at work where he only has the right to simply observe.
Volunteering for an ambulance is not something everyone can do, but Kassymov’s story shows when genuinely devoted, one does not need a medical education to help those who are weaker and even save lives. He plans to obtain a diploma and return to ambulance services no longer as a volunteer, but as a paramedic.
“My example has inspired other people… Three hundred volunteers decided to help emergency medical care workers,” he recently told Esquire Kazakhstan.