Lives in Hackney could be put at risk following high court ruling over volunteer ambulance service
- Credit: Archant
Lives could be put at risk following a controversial High Court ruling over a volunteer ambulance service, it has been warned.
Hatzola provide a registered ambulance service in the Stamford Hill area, funded by the Jewish community, – but there are fears its responder cars could now be banned from using blue lights to get to emergencies.
It follows a landmark High Court case in which it was ruled that two paramedics, who volunteer for a branch of Hatzola in Salford, had breached traffic laws by using flashing sirens while attending a crash in 2012.
The conviction could now have consequences for the other three Hatzola ambulance services in the UK.
A spokesman for the Stamford Hill Hatzola, in Theydon Road, Clapton, explained that the service sends a first response unit for each call – which will use blue lights in an emergency – to get to the incident as quickly as possible. It will then be followed by an ambulance, which the ruling does not affect.
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He said: “We are primarily concerned that any needs to change the way Hatzola operate could potentially affect our ability to arrive on the scene in good time.
“We have a good relationship with emergency services who look to support us in times of need.
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“Our regular members have normal cars with blue lights fitted. All of them drive straight to the scene.
“A responder car will always attend a call during an emergency followed by an ambulance. Members must first go to the ambulance station to pick up an ambulance so responder cars can make a difference.
“If someone sees our cars with blue lights, it’s a potential life or death emergency.”
He added: “The issue appears to be who’s allowed to turn on blue lights. It’s been a grey area for a long time.”
Hatzola receive about 15 calls a day and approximately 6,000 a year. Of these, an estimated 50 per cent are emergencies.
The concept of Hatzola was conceived in the USA in the 1960s and has since spread to Jewish communities around the world.