In September 2009, two of our recruiters, Donna Radey and
Cindy Piccolo visited the King Faisal Specialist Hospital -
Jeddah (KFSH-J) and spoke with Charles Andrew Hoar,
EMS Supervisor, who agreed to answer questions about his
To start, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name Is Charles Andrew Hoar, and I come from New
Brunswick, Canada. I was a firefighter for five years, and
I've been a Paramedic going on 15 years. I moved to Saudi
Arabia in October of 2004 and have lived in Jeddah ever
since. The transition to Jeddah was much easier then I
anticipated, and to this day have had very little difficulty
here. The staff are very supportive and go out of their way
to make you as comfortable as possible.
The most important factor in reducing culture shock and
uneasiness, when you come not just to this country, but to
any new area of the world, is to understand that you are not
at home. You need to be open-minded and try to not
necessarily accept what you experience, but to understand it
and learn from it. After five years I have learned so much
and experienced things I could never have dreamed possible.
Tell us about Ambulance Services at the KFSH-J.
At present time (January 2010) we have four ambulances, five
drivers, five Paramedics, and five EMTs. Our drivers are
from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan; our Paramedics are from
Canada, the United States, Finland, and Saudi Arabia; and
our EMTs are from the Philippines and the United States. Our
Emergency is quite busy, has 23 beds, and the medics and
nursing staff work closely together. The triaging expertise
of the Paramedics is used quite often in the triage area and
we take a strong role in code and trauma situations.
Who is served by Ambulance Services at the KFSH-J?
Our practice basically involves responding to hospital staff
emergencies at hospital housing, VIP emergencies and
escorts, discharges and intra-facility transfers, and
receiving or delivering medevac ICU patients
What would be an average day on the job for a Paramedic or EMT?
Our call volume is very unpredictable — anywhere from one to
nine calls daily — and we are getting busier.
How is your work different from what it would be in Canada or the USA?
Well, in some ways it's a bit easier. We don't respond to
emergencies in the city, except in the case of specific
patients and hospital staff. The service does not see as
much trauma as in North America, but its not unheard of. The
VIP patients make the job interesting, and they represent
something that would not be common in Canada or the United
States. It's something unique to experience.
How will the expansion of the KFSH-J affect your department?
Our service will need to grow significantly in vehicles,
equipment, and staff. The ambulance service will be much
busier and, for me, it will be a great challenge to run this
facility's ambulance service. It's an exciting time to be a
part of this service.
What do you enjoy about 1) working in Jeddah and 2) working at the KFSH-J?
Jeddah has so much to offer, it's overwhelming. First, the
scuba diving is like nowhere else. I have gone diving in
many countries, but the Red Sea is absolutely the best I've
ever seen, and there is always someone to go with. We have
all sorts of trips available, from beach diving to boat day
trips, and even three-day trips on a yacht out in the middle
of the sea! The night life is always hopping — not like it
would be in North America, but we have great restaurants and
coffee shops, and the hospital housing is five minutes from
the sea, where you can sit with your friends and enjoy your
evening listening to the waves.
Working here has been one experience after another, but the
one thing this hospital has excelled at is improving my
career. The work experiences and support for training are
abundant. Since I have been promoted to Supervisor of the
ambulance service, I am constantly learning and taking on
new tasks and responsibilities that help me grow as a person
and as a medic.
What have been the challenges you have faced 1) by working in Saudi Arabia and 2) in this job in particular?
The biggest adjustment has been just getting use to the way
things work and the different obstacles that we have here
that you would not see in other countries. Working anywhere
will present different obstacles; it's just a matter of how
you face and eliminate them. In Jeddah, of course, there are
some cultural adaptations needed and remembering what is
allowed and what is not. Traffic is a unique experience here
as well, but manageable. As for the hospital, the biggest
challenge has been understanding the process of
communication between departments and the amount of time it
may take to achieve some goals. In the end, we all learn
from any of the experiences we see here in Jeddah.
What advice would you give to a paramedic or EMT considering applying for a position at the KFSH-J?
If you are up for adventure, want a good salary, enjoy
traveling, and want new experiences, this is the place to
be. Traveling is very cheap and easy from this location, and
you have close to two months vacation a year! The work is
not difficult, the crew is like family, and the support from
the rest of the hospital is great. If you're tired of snow,
and love the beach, this is the place for you!
What do you do in your spare time in Jeddah?
Scuba diving is at the top of my list, while BBQing, meeting
friends, sitting on the beach, fine dining, and hanging out
with friends are what I do on a weekly basis.