I was driving back from work earlier this evening, when blue lights somewhere off in the distance behind me started flashing. Being ever careful, I checked the speedometer to see if I was speeding (I was not – I’m still waiting for the day I’ll get a ticket for driving too slow on the famous German autobahn where people fancy themselves as distant cousins of Schumacher and thereby eligible to drive at top speed).
Once the blue lights came closer and I was able to determine that a police car was not following me, I realized it was an ambulance, followed by another emergency services car. It continued to flash its blue lights urgently as it zoomed past me, and suddenly, I felt very melancholic (no doubt, as a result of a tired brain).
I had just seen a Facebook post from a friend earlier today who had been lamenting how terribly wrong things feel when no one makes space for an ambulance back home in Bangladesh. I connected this with the ambulance I had seen on the autobahn, and could not help but wonder: should something happen to me in Germany, would I be able to simply get to a hospital faster on account on how things work in this country?
I got my German driver’s license a year ago. It was a brutal experience simply because being able to drive is a privilege and the examiners are demanding. But one thing that stands out in my mind is how, when hearing a siren, you’re supposed to stop, assess where the sound is coming from, and make way no matter what. I’ve seen cars part ways to make room for an ambulance or a police car when the siren was heard. That’s probably not such a big deal for anyone who’s grown up seeing this, but it’s just a few things we don’t get to take for granted back home. People dying on the way to the hospital while being held up in traffic is not uncommon.
Notwithstanding quality of the healthcare or to what extent health insurance is accessible, the simple fact of getting to a hospital (or not) got me thinking and wondering how we ended up in this predicament, and what, if anything, we can do.