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Behind the wheel and on the frontline 

2020-10-30  Staff Reporter

Behind the wheel and on the frontline 
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Hoandi !Gaeb

Sumari Samuels, the only female ambulance driver for the ministry of health in the south, has made her childhood dream come true. 
“My decision to drive an ambulance was part of my quest for gender balance and woman empowerment. I wanted to show the world that whatever men can do, women can do even better. Driving an ambulance or any other vehicle with fancy lights and sirens was always my dream. Therefore I am enjoying my job as driver of the Gibeon ambulance immensely,” the 26-year-old Sumari reveals. 
Sumari was born in 1994 in Windhoek and started her schooling in the city. 

After her parents moved to the south, she enrolled at a primary school in Mariental before she matriculated at Mariental High School in 2012. 
After school like many other young people in the country, she found it difficult to find a decent job and decided to do casual work at several retail shops. 

But around 2015 she had made up her mind and went back to Gibeon where she started to work in her parents’ shop and liquor outlet responsible for the overall management of the business.
Sumari always had the desire to further her education. That is when she decided to enrol for a course in human resources. 
However, after the first semester she dropped out of the course due to financial constraints.  
She continued working in her parents’ business and after getting her driving licence – a code 10 for that matter – she started to assist her father, the well-known transport guru at Gibeon and Mariental, Harry Samuels of G-6 Transport.
She assisted him in transporting cattle, building material and commuters between Gibeon and Mariental. 

Big cars 
“I enjoy driving cars, which is why I also did not go for the ordinary licence, but for the code 10 permit so that I could drive bigger cars. I used to transport cattle and other small livestock with my father’s truck from farms in the Gibeon communal area to Mariental and back,” the mother of one added.

“My interest in driving cars was triggered by helping out my father and when the Khaxatsus Investments Company bought and donated the ambulance to the clinic at the village, I did not even think of driving the ambulance one day. At that stage my only desire was to make my parents’ business successful.”

However, sometime this year, Sumari decided to submit her application for an ambulance driver vacancy at Gibeon. 
“I was the only female applicant and I also did not believe that I will get the job. The competition was tough as ambulance driving is a traditionally male-dominated profession. Some men even go so far as to say that they will not make use of the ambulance after they heard that I am the new driver calling the shots at the Gibeon clinic. Some say women cannot be good drivers as they quickly panic and don’t know what to do during emergencies. However, I was trained by my father to drive a car and the past three months I have already proven that the job can equally be done by a woman and possibly even better than some male counterparts.”
Sumari says today she has mastered the job and was already involved in attending to emergencies, which she managed to control through her expertise.

Saving lives
She singled out the one day when she had to transport an expectant mother from Gibeon to Mariental hospital. 
While she was driving at high speed to reach the hospital in time, she heard the woman screaming: “Stop the car. I think the baby is on the way.”

There is always a nurse in the ambulance and when she realised the baby was on its way, the nurse ordered her to pull the ambulance off the road and suddenly the baby was delivered. 
She said the nurse requested her to help her with the injections and other stuff that she knew nothing about.
“Although I am also a mother, that day was the only time that I really saw how a baby was born.”
Shortly thereafter the nurse instructed her to drive to the hospital as speedily as possible. 
“I really cannot remember how I managed to drive the vehicle safely to the hospital, but I did it. I am very proud that I could help save two lives that day.”

Sumari says driving the ambulance is fun and she enjoys her job tremendously. But she said it is extremely demanding and responsible work. You are dealing with people’s lives on a daily basis. During emergencies you have to drive as fast as you possibly can to save a life. But you need to be equally alert not to cause another accident on your way to the hospital, she said.
Sumari’s typical work week runs from Monday to Friday normal office hours, but she must be available 24 hours each and every day. 
As long as there is a patient, she has to transport them to Mariental hospital.
“I think I am the right person for the job and I will hang in there for a long time to come,” she said.

2020-10-30  Staff Reporter

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