A pediatrician in Alabama was found guilty of numerous traffic violations after rushing to help a newborn baby that was wasn’t breathing.
Last September, Covington County, Alabama, pediatrician Dr. Bhagwan Bang was called to Andalusia Regional Hospital to save a newborn baby who had stopped breathing.
“I got a call from the nursery regarding a baby who was not breathing and needing resuscitation and they were needing me,” Bang said.
For situations like the one he was in, Bang had previously been instructed by the Opp Police Department to take a specific route to the hospital and call 911 on the way. A recording of the 911 call on Sept. 8, 2014, found Bang explaining the situation to the dispatcher as police officers were heard in the background telling him to slow down. Also on the call was Opp’s assistant police chief, who asked Bang to drive slower for safety reasons.
“I thought they were trying to escort me,” Bang said of the officers who trailed him as he sped to the hospital. “I just kept on proceeding. I realized that one of the police cars went in front of me to stop me. And this time, the image is in my mind of the baby. They could have a ruptured lung and I may need to do something. There are times when you need a skilled physician there. Obviously, minutes and seconds matter. I had to stop when the police officer came in front of me. I waited for 15 minutes.”
Bang was able to make it to the hospital and save the baby, but was later charged with several traffic violations. The case went to trial on Monday, and the following day he was found guilty of reckless driving, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, and driving on the wrong side of the road. If the ruling is not overturned, Bang could have his driver’s license taken away for six months.
“If there's a similar situation, both hospitals won't have a physician available to them,” he said. “If I need to reach my patients, I won't be able to because I can't drive in time. It's disturbing my care to the patients and it's disturbing all of the community.”
An online petition was created in support of Bang, garnering over 3,000 signatures since it was launched. Supporters described Bang as an exemplary medical professional.
"Once the police officers were told by Dr. Bang that the baby's life was in danger, they should have escorted him to the hospital and then they would have been heroes," one supporter wrote. "Dr. Bang is a compassionate person who puts life above everything, even his own good. That's the example the police officers should have followed."
Bang, though distraught over the ruling, said he’s appreciative of the support he’s been shown from the community.
“I feel in debt to them and it makes me want to serve this community even more,” he said. “I just ask the city of Opp to understand me and my situation.”
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