Alarm bells for Hatzola over sirens

Two members of the Manchester branch of Hatzola, the community emergency medical service, are to appear in court charged with illegally using sirens on their vehicles.

The two male volunteers were responding to an accident involving non-Jewish drivers of a car and motorbike which collided last October in Prestwich, in the north of the city.

They were later cautioned by police for operating a siren on a vehicle not classed as an ambulance and will appear in Bury Magistrates’ Court.

In the meantime, Manchester Hatzola has stopped using warning equipment on their emergency vehicles. The organisation declined to comment.

The law on sirens and warning lights on emergency vehicles is a grey area, according to Don Williams, president of the British Ambulance Association, the UK’s largest private ambulance body.

“We’ve been campaigning to get the entire law which governs ambulances brought up to date for 51 years. The NHS has started using first-response vehicles with sirens despite the fact that they do not meet the legal definition of an ambulance. “We have been trying to get the law clarified for private medical services,” he said.

Mr Williams added that Hatzola services, which used purpose-built ambulances, such as those run in north-west London and Stamford Hill, could use sirens under the law.

“The police have no jurisdiction” to stop them, he argued.

Last updated: 4:45pm, June 20 2013