Ambulance incident taken up with Spanish authorities

PANORAMA EXCLUSIVE
The row over a Gibraltar ambulance being stopped by the Guardia Civil and fined has been taken up with the Spanish authorities, although it is not clear at this stage at what level and whether it will produce concrete results ensuring that this incident does not happen again.

Meanwhile, the Gibraltar Health Authority has taken a strange decision over this matter, asking those in the ambulance service who might have to execute transfers to Spain to take with them sufficient money in case they are fined.

This is said to be causing some disquiet as it is not normal for employees to be expected to fork out private cash whilst on official business.

If stopped by the Guardia Civil, those in the ambulance are being asked by management to remain calm and to give explanations to the Guardia Civil why the blue lights are being used.

Further, the Guardia Civil are to be made fully aware of the consequences that could ensue to patients if the transfer is not carried out immediately.

If the Guardia Civil insist in executing the fine, and the ambulance staff do not have available cash to pay the fine, the situation that could arise, as happened over the Benalmadena transfer, is that the Guardia Civil could demand payment of the fine or the ambulance would be confiscated, patient included.

In such extreme circumstances, arrangements should be made to call the Spanish ambulance emergency number for them to take over the transfer in the best interests of the patient.

However, information reaching PANORAMA adds that ambulance staff are being asked to carry enough money on them so that, if a fine arises, they are able to pay. To expect employees to have their own private money at the ready is seen as being out of place. If this is what manegement wants then the money should be made available by the GHA, or whoever, to the drivers concerned, it is being said.

Meanwhile there are suggestions that blue lights are recognised in the European Union, and if this is confirmed, it could be that the Spanish insistence that orange coloured lights are essential might be out of place.

Guardia Civil patrol cars were seen in Spain at the weekend using both orange and blue lights. So, what kind of a crisis is this?

18-05-10



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