Tailgating an ambulance in an emergency situation can be put lives in danger. Photo: ER24

Johannesburg - Responding to any emergency is extremely stressful for paramedics, says private ambulance service ER24.

“You are constantly bombarded with a loud siren noise and adrenalin pumping through your veins," it said. "You have to keep the safety of yourself, your crew, your patient and the people around you in mind at all times.

“The last thing paramedics want to do is to consider a vehicle tailgating them too.”

Kerry Gamble, an Intermediate Life Support (ILS) medic at ER24’s Johannesburg North branch, said: “We had a patient with serious injuries in the back of the ambulance.

"We were attempting to go through an intersection to get her to hospital as quickly as possible, when a gentleman cut us off completely, so we stopped to let him go, thinking that he might not have seen us.”

She said they carried on driving behind him and he pulled over, letting the paramedics pass 

“Then he started following us, through the centre of the two lanes. We carried on going, but when we slowed down as vehicles came towards us, the car behind almost rear-ended us. I’ve previously been in a collision in a similar situation.”

She explained that when vehicles crashed into them after tailgating, an ambulance became non-operational. 

“We could be on our way to an emergency and these types of crashes can delay or even prevent us from getting to the scene and providing the necessary help. 

"The whole incident snowballs as we have to stop, assess for injuries, take statements and details, call a local manager and in some cases, have the car towed. All of this results in traffic congestion and may lead up to a secondary collision as well.”

What to do when you see an ambulance en-route to an emergency:

  • Don’t panic
  • Give way
  • Constantly check your rear view and side mirrors
  • Don’t tailgate
  • Be patient
  • Check before you cross an intersection even if the light is green for you to go
  • Do not blindly move in a direction or slam on brakes
  • Observe your surroundings, paramedics do too
  • Do not play excessively loud music – this will hamper you from hearing the siren. When you hear a siren, try and determine where it is coming from

The Mercury