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The Public Health Ministry’s policy to ensure ambulances do not run at speeds exceeding 80km per hour applies only to non-emergency referral cases.
“The policy has been introduced to ensure the safety of those inside the ambulances. But, of course, drivers can use appropriate speeds on a case-by-case basis,” the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, Dr Prapon Tangsrikertikul, said on Friday after the policy drew a lot of criticism.
Critics pointed to the fact that if emergency patients were not administered timely treatment, the chance of a full recovery or survival would fade in many cases.
Chawalit Rattanasuttikul, who chairs rescue units in the South, said speed was necessary to save lives.
“The policymakers should think more about patients,” he said.
Prapon explained that the speed-limit policy was only for ambulances of agencies under his ministry’s supervision, not ambulances used by other organisations and not vehicles used by rescue workers.
He said the ministry decided to introduce the policy due to the number of accidents involving ambulance vehicles. The new policy will bar ambulances from jumping red lights.
“Also, we have increased protection coverage for ambulance passengers who get maimed or die in accidents. The compensation amount has now been raised to Bt2 million per person,” Prapon said.
Chawalit argued that ambulance accidents were relatively few when compared with the number of patients they helped in a year.
“Ambulances serve about one million people a year,” he said.
He also wondered if the ministry’s policy was intended to favour some private companies that had sold premium car insurance and GPS systems.