Jammed Saigon set to launch air ambulance service

By Huu Nguyen   May 5, 2017 | 11:48 am GMT+7
Jammed Saigon set to launch air ambulance service
An ambulance got stuck in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Conventional ambulances often struggle to get through the traffic to reach patients.

Ho Chi Minh City is set to launch air ambulances to handle emergencies in Vietnam's largest city where traffic jams are the norm.

The Vietnam Helicopter Corporation has started drawing up a feasibility plan to use a helipad on top of a 36-story building on Nguyen Hue Street in the city's downtown.

The building, one of the 10 tallest in Vietnam, is the city's only private premises to be granted permission by the defense ministry to operate air ambulances.

jammed-saigon-set-to-launch-air-ambulance-service

A helicopter lands on the building on Nguyen Hue Street as part of technical inspections to prepare for the new service. Photo by VnExpress

Conventional ambulances are often unable to respond quickly to accidents in Ho Chi Minh City, where congestion is an everyday problem.

Vietnam imposes cash fines of VND500,000-1.2 million ($22-53) on drivers who refuse to make way for emergency vehicles, but the law is rarely enforced. Many argue that during traffic jams, there's simply no space to give way to ambulances.

Various solutions have been suggested such as using ambulance motorbikes or having traffic police accompany ambulances to clear congestion.