Friday, 14 December 2012

Ambulances will get priority, Ministry of Health decrees

Traffic must give priority to ambulances, Ministry of Health says, but laws must wait two years
Following the death of a patient in a traffic jam on December 7, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Beijing Health Bureau have announced new regulations to ease ambulances' passage through traffic in emergency cases.
The ambulance was only able to move 3km in 40 minutes.
Public opinion on the MOH Pre-hospital Emergency Medical Treatment was already solicited in October and November of 2011 and will soon be released as a ministerial edict, said the ministry's spokesperson Deng Haihua at a press conference held in Beijing on Wednesday.
The fifth draft of the Beijing Emergency Treatment Medical Service Regulation, which began to be discussed in 2007, has been handed over to the local legislative body, the Beijing News reported on Thursday.
The Beijing regulations will be published within two years, according to reports.
 They will stipulate that ambulances have traffic priority in emergency treatment and while transferring patients in critical condition.
Other drivers that refuse to give way to ambulances will be punished and be held legally accountable if the patients die, Legal Mirror reported Thursday.
Traffic jams are a common obstacle for city ambulances, with drivers complaining that fewer than half of all vehicles give way to them.
According to the statistics from the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, the average speed of ambulances in urban areas is less than 40 kilometers per hour during the daytime when they transfer patients, said the Beijing News.
According to the updated version of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Road Traffic Safety, implemented in 2011, ambulances have priority and can't be limited by driving routes, speed, directions and traffic lights.
However, some Beijing residents argued that the punishment for cars who block ambulances would be difficult to confirm.
After collecting public opinions, law makers in Beijing will consider whether ambulances should be exempt from penalties if they scrape or collide with other cars during emergency treatment, said the Beijing News. 
Laws alone cannot solve all the traffic problems confronted by ambulances, Li Jianren, director of the emergency center, told the Global Times on Thursday.
"Tragedies won't happen if people obey traffic rules and respect others' lives," he said during a phone interview.
Source: Global Times

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