Reports say members of a criminal gang in the Italian city of Naples have threatened ambulance crews to stop using sirens because they are disturbing their businesses.
Ambulance signals disturb drug-pushers and scare away customers, both of which often mistake them for police.
This appears not to be too different from what pertains here in Ghana, as an ambulance driver conveying a pregnant woman in labour to the hospital was shot to death a few days ago.
Just like in Ghana, ambulance drivers and first responders in Naples have recently started asking for police escorts, after numerous reports of armed mafia crews threatening and even assaulting ambulances, over their use of sirens and light signals, according to Odditycentral.com.
The news portal said a traumatized ambulance driver recently told Italian media that he was driving an ambulance with its siren on when he found himself flanked by two men on a motorcycle, one of whom banged on the ambulance window and threatened to kill him.
“Haven’t you understood you cannot use your siren here? Turn it off or we’ll shoot you,” one of the armed men allegedly told the ambulance driver.
A 42-year-old emergency doctor and the head of a local branch of an organization fighting violence against medical professionals, Manuel Ruggiero who confirmed the threats to the lives of ambulance drivers in some parts of Naples.
He alleged that ambulances don’t use their sirens and light signals for fear of mafia retaliation in some neighbourhoods, just for their safety.
“We have already been ordered not to use sirens in other neighborhoods, including Sanità and Traiano, where the locally based ambulance turns on its siren only after it leaves the area,” Ruggiero said.