An ambulance with a wailing siren evokes many responses. There are some people who very kindly slow down on the side of the road and wait until the ambulance passes while some others — especially autorickshaw drivers and two-wheelers — literally chase after the ambulance to get past the signal light. There is yet another category of motorists who don’t budge to make way for the ambulance, come what may.
While it is an unsaid rule that motorists must give way to an ambulance, a lot of people don’t pay heed to this. And there are a few people who wonder whether there really is an emergency or if the urgency is being faked.
The Bangalore Traffic Police has kickstarted a campaign of sorts to educate the public on the need to give way to an ambulance. But whether this will change people’s attitude is yet to be seen.
Most hospitals in the City claim that any ambulance always has a doctor, an attendant and a nurse, in addition to a driver. Hospital managements say that care is taken to ensure that there is no misuse of the vehicle. Immanuel, transport in-charge of Vikram Hospital, says, “We sometimes get three or four calls a day for an ambulance and some days, we don’t get any calls. In a month, we get an average of 30 calls. The drivers of the ambulance work in shifts and we always make a note of who goes where at what time.”
However, Immanuel says that one cannot keep track of the route the ambulance may take to reach the destination.
While the traffic police says that people must give way to the ambulances, others wonder how that is possible in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Citing her personal experience, Chetna Tilak, a consultant, says she had to travel from Kalyan Nagar to Mallya Hospital in an ambulance once. She noticed that there was so much congestion on the road that people didn’t give way.
“I actually saw people chase after the ambulance — and these are the so-called educated and civilised lot in our society. There are only a handful of people who really give way to an ambulance,” she says.
Jhenson, an HR professional, adds, “Everyday I see at least one ambulance caught in traffic. There are rules but people don’t bother to follow those.” Meena, a counsellor, feels that ambulances can be allowed to pass through only when traffic is regulated.
“There are no policemen in sight most of the time and I think people are ignorant about the urgency of giving way to an ambulance,” she reasons. But Mohit, a businessman, has had a pretty bad experience with an ambulance.
“I almost got killed when an ambulance drove towards me once. The truth is that there’s so much traffic on the roads that there’s hardly any space for an ambulance to pass,” shares Mohit.
Talking from a senior citizen’s point of view, 62-year-old Sarala says, “I get very tensed and worked up when I hear the sound of an ambulance. It’s disturbing. We try to stop or move to wherever we can to give way to an ambulance.”