ARITA, Wakayama >> Special ambulances used to transport pregnant and postpartum women have been operating in Arita, Wakayama prefecture, since the summer. The city’s fire department houses three ambulances, all of which are still used during general emergencies. But if a call involves assisting a pregnant woman, a “maternity mark” sticker is affixed to the vehicle.
Many pregnant women in Japan feel it is inappropriate to call emergency services, even when they are about to give birth. The sticker is intended to ease that concern.
The special ambulances are operated by Dr. Haruhito Hirano, the only full-time obstetrician and gynecologist at Arita’s city hospital. Hirano requested use of an ambulance after unborn babies died because of delayed treatment or unsuccessful home deliveries..
Such tragedies, he said, are often the result of pregnant women being hesitant to call for an ambulance.
“This is a good system for everyone in the city,” said a fire department official.
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