Ambulance crews hassled by youths

The Tokyo Fire Department said Mar. 3 there have been 13 recent cases of youngsters confronting or attacking members of ambulance units rushing to emergencies in entertainment districts.

The department is concerned that the obstructions could adversely affect transportation of emergency patients in the city’s capital, where an ambulance is dispatched every 68 seconds.

In a recent case, the department received a dispatch request at around 11 p.m. Feb. 26 for a patient complaining of eye irritation in an Ikebukuro subway station. The ambulance was delayed by a large group of youngsters flowing over from a park opposite a subway station exit on a narrow street. About 20 of the youths surrounded the ambulance and complained that it was parked on their turf, the department said. As a result, a support ambulance and a police car were mobilized to clear the youngsters from the area, it said.

An emergency medical unit member said the youths were around 20 years of age and that he felt in danger of being attacked.

The fire department dispatched ambulances 465,000 times last year, or once for one in every 24 Tokyoites.