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Manila traffic jams block ambulances, patients die on way to hospital

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Manila traffic jams block ambulances, patients die on way to hospital | The Thaiger
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Gridlock in Manila is costing lives as ambulances stuck in traffic face severe delays in the race against the clock to reach the city’s hospitals, medics warn.

Special lanes for emergency vehicles are not enforced, the infrastructure is outdated, and local drivers are often unwilling or unable to make way – a situation experts say is causing patients to die en route.

“You feel empty. It is as if you were not given a chance to do everything in your capacity to help,” ambulance driver and paramedic Joseph Laylo told AFP.

“If the traffic was not that bad it could have saved the patient,” he added, recalling how he lost a patient when congestion tripled the time to hospital.

Even with an encyclopedic knowledge of short cuts or aggressive driving such as blasting their horns or bumping unyielding vehicles, it is not always enough to arrive in time.

Driver Adriel Aragon is still haunted after losing a critically ill patient when it took 40 minutes to reach the hospital — the journey should have taken half that time.

“No matter how hard we honk, even if we use our siren, if the vehicles are not moving it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“That’s what happened that time,” Aragon added of the 2014 tragedy.

Five minutes before they reached the hospital the woman’s pulse disappeared. She was pronounced dead after they wheeled her into the emergency room.

At peak hours, the main arteries of Manila are clogged with idling cars — a 25-kilometre (16-mile) end to end drive through the main highway can take as long as three hours.

Home to some 13 million, there is nearly one vehicle registered per person. The resulting gridlock costs the city $67 million daily in lost productivity, according to a 2017 Japanese government-funded study.

Life or death

Neither the government nor ambulance companies keep count of how many patients die in traffic each year, officials said, but emergency medical workers in the city have many horror stories.

Laylo says one patient died inside his ambulance after heavy traffic on a narrow road added 10 minutes to the journey from the patient’s home to the hospital.

“It was about 5.7 kilometres. Normally it would take us less than five minutes, but it took us 15 minutes that time,” Laylo explained.

“When you’re trying to save a person’s life, that is very slow,” he said, still upset by the 2017 incident.

Images of ambulances stalled in unmoving traffic jams have sparked outrage on social media in the Philippines.

One of the most notorious examples – which has been viewed over 3.2 million times online – was filmed by a woman shocked that cars wouldn’t or couldn’t give way to the ambulance carrying her mother.

“I was very angry. I was worried too because we couldn’t do anything about the vehicles blocking our lane,” the woman, Jing Zamora, told AFP.

The trip took hours, when it should have taken minutes. Zamora’s mother, who suffered a stroke, survived the trip to the hospital but died there a week later.

A swift medical response is key to recovery, according to the American Stroke Association.

Officials like Aldo Mayor, public safety chief of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, put at least part of the blame on other road users.

“Some people simply do not care. It is as if they are the only residents of this world,” said Mayor, whose government agency manages the capital’s chaotic traffic.

He added that Manila ordinances concerning emergency vehicles, including a 2017 regulation that reserves one lane for them, are rarely enforced due to personnel constraints.

Manila traffic jams block ambulances, patients die on way to hospital | News by The Thaiger

‘Ambulances cannot levitate’

These problems come as Manila’s population has roughly doubled since 1985 and its infrastructure has not kept up.

Its limited system of commuter rail is augmented by jeepney mini-buses and millions of cars.

The nation’s thicket of bureaucracy and deep-rooted corruption have stalled or blocked efforts to build new roads, bridges and public transit.

President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to unblock the capital’s choking gridlock, but halfway through his term the city’s main thoroughfare, EDSA, remains a parking lot at rush hour.

The sheer number of cars on the roads is a major factor in whether ambulances can get their patients to hospital quickly, said Vernon Sarne, a long-time automotive journalist.

“Even when you want to give way, but the motorway is full, what can we do? The ambulance cannot levitate,” he told AFP.

However Sarne noted that drivers have become cynical, thinking ambulances might be using their lights and sirens just to cut through the traffic for non-emergencies.

“As a motoring public we are jaded to the fact that everyone is taking advantage of us,” he said, adding some politicians use emergency vehicles escorts to avoid the gridlock.

Yet ambulance operators in Manila hope public shaming on social media, like Zamora’s viral video, can help.

“Because of social media, we found more and more people are giving way, giving (us) the benefit of the doubt,” Michael Deakin, the head of one of the nation’s largest ambulance companies told AFP.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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Weather

Vamco weakens into tropical storm, misses northern Thailand altogether

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Vamco weakens into tropical storm, misses northern Thailand altogether | The Thaiger

Typhoon Vamco, which killed some 67 people when it stormed through the middle of Luzon island late last week, has turned into a tropical storm which will have minor effects on Thailand’s weather over the next few days. Isolated light to moderate rains will be likely over the Northeast and the North today as a result… Vamco will track on through northern Laos.

Category 2 tropical depression has been declined as the active low pressure over Pakxan, Laos. It is forecast to be dispersed upward. There remains isolated light to moderate rains likely over the Northeast and the North in the following next day. Farmers should prevent for crop damage.

Typhoon Vamco made landfall over Dong Hoi, central Vietnam yesterday, already weakened after its trip westwards across the South China Sea, becoming a tropical storm. The storm is forecast to continue to dissipate as the eye crosses Laos and may track north, completely missing Thailand.

Typhoon Goni swept across The Philippines just 10 days before Vamco cut its way through many of the same communities, bringing storm surges and destruction through low-lying mid-Luzon communities. Evacuations have dislodged over 500,000 people during the past 2 typhoons.

Watch a video of Vamco as it cut through The Philippines HERE.

Vamco weakens into tropical storm, misses northern Thailand altogether | News by The ThaigerVamco weakens into tropical storm, misses northern Thailand altogether | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: AccuWeather | TMD

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Weather

Fair weather for Thailand’s north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings

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Fair weather for Thailand’s north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Landslide on Koh Samui - Camille's Samui Blog

The Thai Meteorological Department has incorrectly forecast the tracking of the tropical storm ‘Vamco’, instead warning Thais to “brace for the impact of Typhoon Vamco over the weekend”, according to Bangkok Post.

Fair weather for Thailand's north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings | News by The Thaiger

But the track of the storm is not even forecast to reach the far north of Thailand until late Monday or Tuesday, although there could be some rain and higher-than-usual winds in some locations. Indeed, the reliable forecast for many of the north eastern and northern Thai provinces for the forecast period is for mostly sunny conditions, according to AccuWeather (below).

As of yesterday, the Typhoon Vamco had killed at least 42 people in The Philippines, as residents returned to devastated homes following the worst flooding in years around Manila and nearby provinces. The typhoon cut a path similar to another typhoon just 10 days before, through the middle of the northern Luzon island.

Fair weather for Thailand's north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings | News by The Thaiger

Tracking Vamco – AccuWeather

Fair weather for Thailand's north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings | News by The Thaiger

Weather.com – Khon Kaen

Fair weather for Thailand's north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings | News by The Thaiger

Weather.com – Chiang Mai

The Thai Meteorological Department noted that the eye of the storm yesterday was in the South China Sea, about 500 kilometres east of Da Nang in Vietnam and is expected to make landfall early morning Sunday. But the tropical depression will lose a lot of its impact once it crosses the Vietnamese coastline and tracks north westwards through Vietnam and Laos.

“It is expected to make landfall over Vietnam by 15 November 2020 and then downgrade, respectively. Isolated light to moderate rain is likely over the Northeast and the North, during 15-16 November 2020.”

Fair weather for Thailand's north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, heavy rain and have featured in the central south, including Koh Samui and Chumpon, flooding many areas. Areas in all eight districts of Chumpon province have been effected. Parts of the Asia Highway, running north-south, have been under water.

Fair weather for Thailand's north east this weekend despite incorrect warnings | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: AccuWeather |weather.com | Bangkok Post | TMD

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Weather

Vamco kills 7 as typhoon-weary communities mop up in northern Philippines | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Vamco kills 7 as typhoon-weary communities mop up in northern Philippines | VIDEO | The Thaiger

‘Vamco’, aka Ulysses in The Philippines, is now a severe tropical storm heading westward towards the central Vietnamese coastline after making landfall on The Philippines yesterday as the latest typhoon. At least 7 people have died and 12 others missing after Vamco made landfall on Wednesday night.

A 68 and 70 year old are among those killed. More than 180,000 people were evacuated before the typhoon battered the countryIn one of the worst typhoon years on record, Vamco barrelled into communities that were devastated by Super Typhoon Goni just 10 days before.

Typhoon Vamco was equivalent in force to a Category 2 hurricane or cyclone. It made landfall at 11pm Philippines time near Patnanungan, Quezon, then kept tracking westward, making another landfall in Luzon. The storm again caused flooding and 2-3 metres of storm surge and local landslides.

Philippine President Duterte cut short his attendance of an online meeting of south east Asian leaders to visit some of the damaged areas hit by Typhoon Vamco. His inspection followed a speech where he urged his fellow ASEAN leaders to urgently combat the effects of climate change.

The major typhoon, the 8th to hit The Philippines over the past 2 months and the 21st tropical storm of the year, pushed residents higher ground or to scramble onto rooftop of their houses awaiting rescue after 10s of thousands of homes were submerged.

People killed across The Philippine’s main north island of Luzon, home to over half of the country’s 109 million population, included people who drowned in the storm surges and flooding. Vamco struck areas still recovering from Typhoon Goni, the most powerful typhoon in the world this year. It killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes 10 days ago when it slammed into the same communities.

Vamco now heads towards the Vietnamese coast and is situated in the middle of the South China Sea, but has lost a lot of its power and is now rated as a sever tropical storm.

Vamco kills 7 as typhoon-weary communities mop up in northern Philippines | VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

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