Thursday, February 16, 2012

Single-minded leadership of Romania's emergency-response system

Dr. Raed Arafat, in checkered shirt, at a fire scene in Bucharest
Here's a government leader I'd like to see more people emulate. Read the article about Dr. Raed Arafat, and prepare to be impressed. He memorized the book 'First Aid Without Panic' as a boy, rode with the West Bank fire department at 14, was giving shots and stitches at 15, then emigrated to Romania at 17 to receive his formal medical education.

When the communist dictatorship ended in 1990, he drove to Germany, bought a used emergency vehicle and set up the country's first emergency service. With single-minded determination, "I'm married to emergency medicine," he built a system that now boasts 170 first responder teams, 12 training centers and four helicopters.

But what makes him truly remarkable is the reaction of the ordinary people to him. Patients will recognize him in the helicopter and remark, "It's Dr. Arafat." And when he was berated on air by the country's president and forced to resign, the people took to the streets in a week of violent protests to demand his return. The government had no choice but to comply.

How many of our bureaucrats are accorded that kind of respect and loyalty?

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