Muscat: All ambulance drivers in the government sector who received a traffic violation must pay their fines by April 2019, according to the Ministry of Health.
This comes following discussions between officials at the Directorate General of Traffic at the Royal Oman Police (ROP) and the Ministry of Health regarding the possible exemption of ambulance drivers from traffic violations.
It was determined that drivers who transport patients who are in a stable condition will have to abide by all the traffic laws.
The Ministry of Health issued a circular on February 6, addressing all ambulance drivers at government hospitals.
The circular reads, “Following the discussion between the Ministry of Health and the Directorate General of Traffic to exempt ambulance drivers from traffic fines, the Directorate General of Traffic responded that it is not possible to exempt drivers from all traffic fines, including crossing traffic signals, starting from January 2018.”
“All ambulance drivers who received such traffic fines [are required] to settle them before the end of April 2019. Legal proceedings will be taken against anyone who does not clear the fines.”
The ministry has also called upon drivers to abide by the speed limit and to activate the operation records of all vehicles.
According to the ROP, the circular only applies to cases where the ambulance is transporting a patient who is in a stable condition and there is no danger to his/her life.
“There is continuous coordination with the Ministry of Health with regard to the operation of various types of ambulance vehicles. Everyone knows that ambulance vehicles are regulated in Oman and even globally.
“What has been circulated on social media is regarding ambulance vehicles that are used to transport patients from one hospital to another with the presence of a medical team, while the patient is in a stable condition for the purpose of tests or to receive services in another hospital,” said an official from the ROP.
“Some of these vehicles hinder the movement of traffic and even cause accidents. Since the patient is in a stable condition, there is no need to exceed the speed limit. Many of these accidents can be avoided if the drivers abide by the speed limits,” added the official.
“Through our discussions with the Ministry of Health and emergency doctors, the suggestion we received is since the patient is in a stable condition, there is no need for ambulances to speed. Ambulance drivers at the Ministry of Health have been informed and the results were slow, and therefore, we had to implement certain procedures with the Ministry of Health for the safety of the patients and the ambulance staff.”
Applauding the circular, road safety expert Ali Al Barwani said, “This is a great move that will help make roads safer for ambulances, their patients, and all other road users. Overall, ambulance drivers do a fantastic job. However, this will help minimise accidents and keep them safer by ensuring those with stable patients do not speed and those with critical patients have the ability to go faster as required.
"From a road safety perspective, of course, every second counts when it comes to saving a life. That is why in many developed countries, standards such as these have been adopted to allow ambulances carrying critical patients to bypass certain traffic laws, because those extra seconds could be the key to saving a patient.”