In Malta, the standard procedure is to move out of the way when an ambulance is driving by, especially if the lights are flashing (the siren doesn’t need to be on, since patients with heart problems shouldn’t hear the sound). Unfortunately, not everyone is actually in the habit of moving aside for an ambulance – and I feel that this says a lot about the humanity of that person, and what that could reflect about my generation (and younger).
Generally, once an ambulance gets on a road, the cars immediately shift to the side and stop, or at least, slow down if there aren’t that many cars around – Thus allowing a quick and safe passage for the ambulance to get to its destination.
You will also see people who hesitate – these won’t instantly move to the side, but wait until the ambulance is behind them before moving. This gives the impression that they were hoping to reach their destination before realising that they still had to move to the side for the ambulance to pass. The driver, in this case, is solely thinking of him/herself, and what they want, without considering that an ambulance is there for people who need quick medical assistance. By slowing the ambulance down (which you effectively are if you wait til the last moment to shift aside) you are placing someone’s life in risk. And no matter how late you are, that is no excuse because the ambulance will fly by and you’d be back on the road barely a minute later. So if you were late, you’re still going to be late.
There are also people who take advantage of ambulances – and drive directly behind them in a bid to skip all the traffic. This is sheer ignorance and selfishness. The drivers moved aside for an ambulance to pass, when that ambulance passes they want to return to their journey. So firstly, by driving behind the ambulance you’re slowing down everyone else when you have no need, and secondly, these cars which take advantage of ambulances generally drive at high speeds to keep up with the vehicle – all you need is for someone to not pay full attention to their surroundings, and voila – crash. So don’t put others (and yourself) in danger – stick to your place.
And finally, there are people who park in terrible locations and block the road for ambulances. This is mainly relevant to the University. With the new policy of buses parking at the University terminus, you will generally see around buses parked at a time. Therefore, for people to actually get on a bus, the bus would firstly ned to stop in the middle of the road (since there is no space for it to move to the side) and people need to navigate between buses to get onto the one they need. But by stopping in the middle of the road, the buses block the route used by ambulances when they leave the hospital. This severely slows down the ambulance which has to wait, with its sirens and lights flashing, until people board the bus, pay for their ticket/use their card, and the driver sets off. This can easily take a couple of minutes depending on how many people are boarding.
Ambulances are essential to our health care provision. It needs to be respected, particularly on the road. By not instantly moving aside to make space for an ambulance to pass, you’re saying that your business is more important than another’s life.