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Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Curbs Speed Limit of Public Ambulances

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BANGKOK – The recent introduction of a speed limit for hospital ambulances of 80 km/h and the requirement of first-class insurance has received some public comment.

The Ministry of Public Health has explained these measures are for the safety of patients and officials, and are only applicable to ambulances used to transfer patients from one hospital to another, not for paramedics and rescuers.

The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) Deputy Permanent Secretary, Prapon Tangsrikertikul has confirmed the speed limit of 80 km/h for ambulances is only applicable for emergency ambulances belonging to the MOPH, but excludes all emergency vehicles belonging to the National Institute for Emergency Medicine.

He said the speed limit does not affect life saving procedures for patients, as all referral processes will be determined by a central control center, and that affected ambulances are only those used to transfer patients with stable vital signs to another hospital with advanced coordination.

Doctors and nurses will also be on board, making the ambulance a mobile emergency unit.

Meanwhile, emergency vehicles for paramedics which might be pick-up trucks belonging to rescue centers and foundations are not subject to this speed limit, with all rescue operations constantly monitored by a command center to deliver patients the help they need as quickly as possible.

The MOPH deputy permanent secretary says the enforcement of this speed limit results from 110 accidents over the past four year from 2016 to 2019, which resulted in 318 injuries and fatalities.

The speed limit of ambulances is intended to ensure safety for patients and staff on board. The insurance provisions have also been strengthened to offer up to seven persons on board 2 million baht compensation in cases of accident resulting in disability or death. Most accidents involving ambulances have shown that the ambulances were travelling at up to 130 km/h, while the previous insurance requirement only covered up to five passengers on board.