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Lives in Hackney could be put at risk following high court ruling over volunteer ambulance service

PUBLISHED: 09:21 26 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:21 26 March 2014

Hatzola ambulance

Hatzola ambulance

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.

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.

“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.


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