Mafia in Naples, Italy have begun attacking ambulance crews whose sirens are reportedly interrupting drug deals and scaring off business, as customers fear police are on their way.
Two gang members ambushed and threatened to kill an ambulance driver in the city’s Spanish Quarter on Saturday.
“Haven’t you understood you cannot use your siren here? Turn it off or we’ll shoot you,” one mafioso reportedly barked from the back of a motorbike.
The noises and flashing lights interfere with ‘business’ as dealers mistake the sirens for those of police cars, though the medic was forced to call in the cavalry to provide safe escort out of the neighborhood in question.
Amid a slew of similar reports across the city, ambulance drivers and accompanying first responders are demanding police escorts to protect them from intensifying harassment, violence and intimidation.
“We have already been ordered not to use sirens in other neighborhoods, including Sanita and Traiano, where the locally based ambulance turns on its siren only after it leaves the area,” said Manuel Ruggiero, a 42-year-old emergency doctor and community organizer.
According to some reports, there have been 300 such incidents of aggression towards the medics which form Naples’ 17 ambulance crews in the past three years.
“The same ambulance involved in the incident on Saturday was kicked, and the crew pushed, when they were not in time to save a cardiac arrest patient,” Ruggiero added, explaining that first responders are caught in a Catch-22 between the mafia and irate local residents.
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