A coalition of eight Pittsburgh-area hospitals has formed the Office of International Medicine to train emergency medical technicians from around the world.
The office, created at the Center for Emergency Medicine in Pittsburgh, has contracts to provide services to Canada, England, Iceland and Saudi Arabia. For several years, foreign paramedics have traveled to Pittsburgh to study at the center, which now will send staff abroad.
In most countries, there is "no or really very little organized effort to treat the ill and injured outside the hospital," said Paul Paris, M.D., the center's chief medical officer.
Cultural issues also can present obstacles. Megham Al-Otaibi, a Saudi paramedic studying at the center, said under Islamic law, a man treating a woman may not look at her face or body and, in some cases, might not be able to touch her.