One of the vehicles that must always be given the benefit of the doubt, no matter how many doubts some of us may have regarding their use/misuse/abuse, would be the ambulance. Common sense and common decency dictate that whenever drivers see an ambulance with its flashing lights and wailing siren, they have to give way and let it through.
I often doubt if the ambulances that I encounter are responding to actual emergencies or just feel the need to rush even when performing routine and non-critical patient transfers, or heaven forbid, just going on a joyride; but since there is no way of telling the difference, we oblige them because it is the right thing to do.
We can only trust and hope that the people responsible for dispatching these ambulances and their drivers have a system in place to ensure that these emergency medical vehicles and it the extreme privileges drivers are expected to give it are being used judiciously and properly. If you ask me, I would prefer the sirens and lights to be turned on only if the ambulance is responding to actual emergencies and a more discreet mode of usage should be available for applications that are not-so-emergencies.
One reason why I think many ambulances are not responding to emergencies but are transporting patients that should’ve been stabilized before they were cleared for transport is the number of out-of-town ambulances plying the streets of Bacolod City with their full blinkers and sirens. If they were responding to real emergencies then they should’ve headed for the nearest emergency rooms and not the faraway capital city.
Ambulances may be necessary for transporting patients to the better hospitals in the city, but if that service doesn’t qualify as an emergency, shouldn’t ambulances refrain from going on full-blown emergency mode all the time? Are there rules or at least guidelines among ambulance drivers that lay the protocols for siren use, or do they just automatically switch on their noisemakers and attention grabbers as soon as they turn on the ignition? Drivers will still give way to ambulances that aren’t rushing to and from emergencies, but wouldn’t it be nice if the emergency vehicles reserved their emergency equipment for real emergencies and not for mundane tasks?
While they are probably just minimizing the time the otherwise stable patient is in between hospitals by rushing and using their blinkers and sirens, it might be healthier for the general public if the peace weren’t being continually broken by the wails of emergency vehicles that aren’t even responding to emergencies. I suspect that the current overuse of sirens and blinkers, not just by power tripping wangwangeros, but by legitimate emergency vehicles as well, could have a desensitizing effect on us.
While we are on the topic of emergency vehicles and the sounds and sights they make, let me comment on the design of the flashers of some vehicles that seem to have been poorly designed because some of them do more than just inform motorists of their presence, they actually blind the rest of us using the same road. Case in point would be the emergency vehicles of Talisay City. Those who have experienced following one of their “Serbisyong Guapo” emergency vehicles that have flashers turned on probably know what I mean. The non-standard overly bright blue and white combination is highly uncomfortable for drivers, to the point of being a borderline hazard. We can see their vehicles already because of the blinkers and flashers, thank you very much, but if it’s so bright that it’s blinding, it just cannot be guapo.
Additionally, while we are on the topic of blinding, someone has to remind ambulance drivers that driving with high beams are totally unnecessary and pose another hazard to other drivers. Their high visibility blinkers, flashers, and loud sirens already make them highly noticeable so blinding oncoming traffic is absolutely unnecessary. Being considerate should be in the training manual of any public servant and it reeks of hypocrisy for an ambulance driver who is supposed to be saving lives to be inconsiderate by use using high beams to unnecessarily blind oncoming traffic. We can already see your emergency vehicle without your high beams, thank you very much.
And finally, while we are talking about ambulances, can government or law enforcers do something about those ambulance chasing morons out there? These “wise” and opportunistic drivers who tailgate emergency vehicles to get ahead of traffic, along with the counter flowing idiots easily top my list of drivers whose licenses should be revoked. But fortunately for them and unfortunately for the rest of us, nobody bothers with these reckless, dangerous and inconsiderate motorists so they can do whatever they want.
Ambulances and emergency vehicles are lifesavers and it is only proper to appreciate what they do for our communities. However, many of us would appreciate them more if we knew they were being used and operated properly, and their inherent privileges not being abused. In an ideal world, there would be someone in charge of ensuring that our community’s emergency vehicles are being operated by well-trained and courteous professionals and not just speed demons who know how to get from point A to point B pronto.*
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