BANGKOK – Dr Anucha Sethsathien, Secretary-General of the National Institute for Emergency Medicines, said on Monday that traffic congestion and unintentional blocking of ambulances by motorists were blamed for 20 percent of the deaths of critically ill patients while being rushed to hospitals by ambulances.
Dr Anucha’s remark was in response to an incident widely shared in the social media in which an ambulance on the way to a hospital was blocked by a pickup truck whose driver also reprimanded the ambulance driver.
He admitted that, in many cases, the transport of critically-ill patients to hospitals was delayed by traffic congestion or by motorists who unintentionally or unknowingly blocked the ambulances, resulting in the deaths of 20 percent of the patients.
Several people questioned whether there actually was a critically ill patient in an ambulance or not, said Dr Anucha as he confirmed that there was a patient in an ambulance every time it sounded the siren to ask for a passage way and, in most cases, the patients were in serious conditions.
“Whenever you heard the siren of an ambulance, you should give way to the ambulance because you never know that the patient in the ambulance may be one of your relatives,” said the doctor.
Thailand’s Traffic Law that’s Never Obeyed
By law, when you hear a siren or see flashing lights on an emergency vehicle – a fire truck, police car or ambulance – you must pull over by the side of the road and stop.
Be sure not to block an intersection when you do so.
Even if you just see flashing lights, you must pull over, because such lights mean an emergency is in progress. The penalty for not pulling over is 500 baht.
The law also applies to people riding animals and to buffalo herdsmen. They, too, are required to make way for rescue vehicles.
Pulling over is a way for people to show “social responsibility”.
The right of the emergency car is enshrined in Section 75 of the Traffic Act.
Section 76 of the same act prescribes that motorists must clear the way for emergency vehicles.