The two ambulance drivers were transporting a 75-year-old man suffering from heart problems, whose life was said to be in danger, to St. Joseph’s hospital in the city, last Thursday,.
But on their arrival they were greeted by police officers who, to their disbelief, handed them six separate tickets for an array of traffic offences.
Among their transgressions were crossing through a red light, and installing and using dashlights and sirens.
“The price of a life is six violations,” said a shocked Ali Boudjelida, director of the Alternative Ambulance group which employs the two drivers.
Boudjelida, however, said his colleagues will not go down without a fight, and has enlisted legal help to challenge the sanctions.
“These six violations are total nonsense,” Jean-Pierre Mounier, one of the men’s lawyers told regional daily Le Progrès.
“They were called by the emergency services… We need to decide whether we want effective support services, or not,” he added.
The ambulance firm is also attempting to rally fellow ambulance drivers around what appears to be a persistent problem for secondary support services.
“It’s to be expected that we undergo police supervision, but there are abuses going on,” Alternative Ambulance's Boudjelida said.
Boudjelida accused the local traffic police the ‘Brigade des professions réglementées,’ a police unit set up in October to monitor taxi-drivers, driving instructors and ambulance-drivers, of being over-zealous.
“We’ve been stopped by police 28 times in the last month a half. We’re being pulled between the rules of the road and the demands of medical health,” he added.
“If we drive too slowly, we risk our patients’ lives. And we’re not talking about minor injuries here, we’re very often dealing with a case of either resuscitation, or death,” he concluded.