Jewish ambulance service has to turn off its blue light

By JC Reporter, March 13, 2014

The Hatzola Jewish ambulance service will no longer be able to use blue emergency lights on their vehicles after a judge overturned the acquittal of two drivers this week.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Michael Issler and Mordechai Bamberger, both emergency medics in Manchester, should be convicted of illegally using blue lights after attending victims of a car crash.

The men had been acquitted by a magistrates court in October, but the Crown Prosecution Service had appealed against the judgment.

The landmark decision not only bans Hatzolah from using blue lights, but may also stop NHS vehicles which do not carry patients from using them.

Lady Justice Rafferty, sitting with Mr Justice Jay said she was “saddened that medically trained citizens seeking only to do good, part of a scrupulously professional organisation with high standards and conspicuously shunning gratuitous publicity, find themselves effectively constrained in their efforts”.

My feeling is frustration for Hatzola and the public who need care

She added there was additional practical concern for NHS drivers who would be placed in breach of the law if they, like Hatzola, are not driving vehicles which carry patients as defined by legislation which dates back to the 1980s.

The judges suggested that the law should be updated by an Act of Parliament.

Mr Bamberger told the JC: “My feeling is frustration for Hatzola and the public who need care. Just today I attended to a woman who was chocking in a restaurant. We were able to respond quickly, but if she had to wait for us or an NHS ambulance that women may have been dead.”

Hatzola said it was deciding whether to appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court.

Last updated: 5:45pm, March 13 2014