How should motorists move when they see an ambulance?

P. Balasundaram has been driving an ambulance in Coimbatore for 15 years. Over the years, he has battled traffic jams, insensitive motorists and bad roads to ensure that patients in his vehicle reach hospital on time and get a second chance at life. “I’ve saved hundreds, but I still think about the three people who died in my ambulance just because we were caught in traffic and had no way of reaching hospital on time,” says Balasundaram, who works with KG Hospital.

Traffic bottlenecks

There are three trouble zones in the city for ambulances — Ganapathy, Aathupaalam and Brooke Bond Road, says H. Mohan, head-operations, Tamil Nadu, GVK EMRI 108 Ambulance.

The main issue ambulance drivers face is insensitive motorists. “Sometimes, people tend to tail an ambulance to get out of traffic faster,” rues Mohan. What ‘108’ drivers do when caught in the middle of a jam is to use the public address system to request people to move to one side. Mohan hopes that once the green corridor fully becomes a reality in the city, ambulances will reach their destination faster.

Mohan also says that people must allow ambulance technicians to assess the condition of the patient before transporting them so that treatment can be started immediately. “For instance, if someone is unconscious, the technician must be allowed to check the sugar levels. Sometimes, all that person might need to be revived is a spoonful of sugar,” he says.

Over the years, people have become more sensitive to the ambulance siren, says Balasundaram. “Still, till we are 100 per cent sensitised, we can’t save all lives,” he says. “I still wonder how life would have turned out for the 25-year-old accident victim. How the 40-year-old man would be today if he had survived that heart attack!”

How to move

If the ambulance is heading towards a free left road, all vehicles must move to the right

If the ambulance is looking to move straight or turn right, all vehicles must move to the left