While some civilians in Indonesia use illegally obtained police lights to arrogantly force their way through traffic jams, it’s an everyday occurrence for actual emergency vehicles — which are legally entitled to force their way through congestion — to not be given the right of way by other vehicles despite having their lights and sirens turned on.
The latest such incident sadly cost the life of a patient in Medan, North Sumatra.
As recounted in a post by the Medan chapter of Indonesians Escorting Ambulance (IEA) — a non-profit organization of civilians dedicated to helping ambulances make their way through traffic during emergencies (yes, sadly such groups are needed in Indonesia) — an ambulance in their city was unable to get its patient to the hospital on time because many vehicles refused to give way.
IEA member Steven Willy Andry told Kompas that the incident occurred around 9 pm on Monday. The ambulance was transporting the patient from Rantauprapat to Adam Malik Hospital.
“The siren was on and had been blaring from a distance. Loudly. But the cars still stayed in their lanes. We, the escort team, tried to pave way (for the ambulance), but (the cars) still blocked access,” Steven said, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.
Steven added that, after driving for 45 minutes, the ambulance drivers decided to take the patient to an alternate, nearest hospital. Sadly, the patient passed away shortly after arrival.
Recently, a video went viral online comparing how drivers around the world react to ambulance sirens. Even though the first clip in the video said it was taken in China, netizens have since figured out that it was actually taken in Jakarta (on Jalan Gatot Subroto, in front of the SMESCO building), showing what ambulance drivers often have to face in the capital.
Last year, Indonesian Youtube vloggers Cakraization uploaded a “social experiment” video in which they took a ride in an ambulance and saw for themselves that most vehicles did not give way for it even when the emergency light and siren were on (skip to 02:00 to avoid the over-the-top intro):