THE number of ambulances run by different welfare organisations in Karachi is apparently more than what is actually required because one sees more ‘empty’ ambulances either on the roads or standing by their roadside stations spread across the city.
Besides, most of these ambulances carry no or bare minimum equipment required for a vehicle to be designated as an ambulance. What we have in the city are mere ‘carriers’ of patients and bodies.
There are no standard operating procedures (SOPs) or protocols for ambulance drivers. This results in total chaos on the roads while a patient is being transported to hospital. The drivers are seen driving the ambulance at a tremendous speed with a deafening siren/horn while zigzagging their way on crowded roads, and at times even shouting though megaphones to tell everyone to clear the way when there is hardly anything the ‘others’ can do in a traffic logjam. Following the ambulance, relatives of the patient also move at the same speed and with the same urgency, making matters worse, which is highly dangerous. And not every patient these ambulances carry is in a life-threatening condition.
It is essential to formulate relevant SOPs and make the ambulance drivers follow them. There should be no siren or light-beacon when a body/coffin is being carried. The speed should be limited to 60kph in such a scenario. While operating late in the night with much less traffic on the roads, only the light-beacon should be allowed without any siren. Also, there should be no use of the megaphone announcements.
The SOPs are necessary to allow some level of sanity on the city roads.
Kausar A. Jafri
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2021