Home' Central Canterbury News : May 22nd 2013 Contents Front Cover Wednesday, May 22, 2013
SERVING CENTRAL CANTERBURY FOR OVER 125 YEARS
By ANNA PRICE
PULL OVER: First responder nurse specialist Barbara Smith at her emergency vehicle with the green flashing light.
They can even speed up
to stop you passing.
FIRST RESPONSE medics
warn that someone could
die if motorists on the
region's rural roads continue to
ignore their green flashing lights.
Health professionals respond-
ing to 111 calls say other motor-
ists just don't seem to get it''.
Dr David Bowie, head of the
Flying Doctor service and chair-
man of the Canterbury-West
Coast Emergency Care Co-
ordination Team (ECCT), is work-
ing with the Canterbury Highway
Patrol to raise awareness in a
social driving'' initiative.
Nurse specialist Barbara Smith
says it is a life and death matter
that primary responders reach the
emergency in time.
If we are delayed getting to an
emergency such as a heart attack,
anaphylactic shock, crashes ...
this can often be the difference
between survival and death. It
could be your father or your wife
We certainly would appreciate
motorists showing some under-
standing and courtesy when they
see the green flashing light.''
Mrs Smith, an ECCT executive
member, says narrow roads in
parts of the region compound the
problem, particularly if there are
few places to pass and people
don't pull over.
I've waved to say thank you
when I have been able to pass and
had some strange looks, or you
can get the fingers when you pass
someone. They can even speed up
to stop you passing.''
The lack of signage to identify
the cars as emergency vehicles is
being discussed with at least one
health authority -- the West Coast
District Health Board.
This is certainly something the
health board is aware of and it is
listening to us,'' she said.
Many times on the road, we're
pretty much ignored because the
green flashing light is probably
hard to see, especially in sunlight.
People are not aware of what it
means, so when they see it, they
just carry on normally.
Only on the odd occasion will
someone pull over,'' she said.
It's really tricky sometimes.
We have to go into some weird and
wonderful places, up access driv-
eways in remote valleys, over
unsealed roads, potholes and -- in
rain -- some very dirty tracks.
Even on main highways, if there
is snow or ice, we don't really
want to stop and put chains on.''
The medic's car often reaches
the scene of an accident or an
emergency before an ambulance,
and medics can use their special-
ised training as first responders.
The Road Code states doctors,
nurses and midwives can use a
roof-mounted green flashing light,
and drivers must pull over to let
the vehicle pass.
Green light review gets red light
CORONER IAN Smith last year
called for a ministerial review of
the rules around green flashing
lights mounted on the vehicles of
health professionals heading to
He made the proposal at an
inquest into a woman's cardiac
arrest death at Hutt Hospital.
An intensive care specialist on
their way to treat the woman
was stopped for speeding and
delayed by about five minutes.
The coroner ruled the doctor's
earlier arrival would not have
saved the woman's life, but he
still called for a review.
However, the Government said a
full review would be unlikely
to generate any new approaches
to this issue and suggested
educational initiatives instead.
An Auckland doctor convicted
of speeding after being stopped
on his way to an emergency said
while education might have
value, clarity around the law
was needed. He welcomed the
call to treat green light and
emergency vehicles the same.
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