Tale of grit and determination: ‘We braved Shaheen and tended to the critically injured’

Oman Saturday 04/December/2021 23:55 PM
By: Times News Service
Tale of grit and determination: ‘We braved Shaheen and tended to the critically injured’
Senior legal nurse Sultana bin Salim Al Riyamiya

Muscat: A nurse serving at a clinic in Bidiyah has told of the determination and courage shown by her team to continue to provide healthcare to those who needed it during Cyclone Shaheen, despite the extensive damage her facility suffered.

The cyclone had extensively damaged the health centre’s walls, caused a power cut, and disrupted communications to the outside world, while the accompanying flooding meant senior legal nurse Sultana bin Salim Al Riyamiya and her colleagues were unable to get to their cars to seek out assistance.

“Although I was not paying very close attention to the weather forecasts, all of us had heard of the developments relating to Shaheen,” she said, in an exclusive interview with Times of Oman. “On the Sunday of the cyclone, I went to work at 4pm as usual, taking some of my personal effects with me.”

By the time she reached work, the rain that had begun earlier in the day intensified into a heavy downpour, and proceeded to worsen throughout the night. The health centre held out as best as it could against the elements, but at 3am, floodwaters from the overflowing wadis in the surrounding areas burst through its doors. “The water flooded the entire centre: it entered the X-Ray room and some of our treatment areas first,” recalled Al Riyamiya. “Our staff cars were completely submerged underwater. All of us were in a state of panic and tension…we prayed to God to protect our families and children.”

“We needed, however, to stay calm and continue our work, as we knew it was our responsibility to provide assistance to nationals and expatriates in the area,” she explained. “We did receive two patients who required our attention. Both of them had been injured during Shaheen: the first had deep wounds in his legs, as well as fractures, while the second was suffering from a head wound.

Shaheen caused extensive damage across huge swathes of the Batinah regions of Oman, while also having a far lesser impact on other governorates in the country. Homes were flooded, property was washed away, electricity and communication poles were uprooted, and roads in the area suffered extensive damage.

Government agencies, the military, and civil defence organisations, along with charities, municipalities, and volunteers from across the country, helped quickly rebuild in the wake of the cyclone. Sultana’s house was also not spared from the destruction.

“We knew it was our responsibility to remain vigilant until the waters subsided, which they did around noon,” added Sultana. “I went to a relative’s home which was just 20 minutes away from the clinic, but it still took a long time, as the roads were broken, and it was difficult to navigate them at the time. It was due to the help of Ahmed and Hamid, the sons of my colleague, that we were able to get out of the clinic safely.”

“At 5:30 that evening, I arrived home, to see my children waiting for me, in a wretched state: tears flowed down their faces, while my husband was grief-stricken by the damage caused to our house by overflowing wadis,” she recalled.
Despite the hardship suffered by Al Riyamiya and her colleagues, she is grateful to the government for the swift action and relief measures provided.

“I also want to thank all the medical staff for continuing to due their duty during the cyclone,” she said.

“I also wish to thank the children of my colleague, paramedic Hasina Al Sinani, who helped us in the aftermath of Shaheen.
“I hope that all the emergency service personnel did a great job during what was a time of great need for the people in this part of the country,” she added.