Terrible accident in the pre-Christmas period in Berlin: On Saturday evening, a double-decker bus hit two young people who, according to initial police investigations, ran across the street at a pedestrian traffic light when it was red. Both got under the heavy-duty bus, were trapped there and could only be recovered in the course of a large-scale operation using special technology.

According to the police, a 15-year-old died at the scene of the accident, her 14-year-old companion was taken to a hospital with serious head and upper body injuries. “According to reports, however, there is no danger to her life,” the police said on Sunday.

Eyewitnesses were cared for by pastors

The 62-year-old bus driver suffered a shock and received medical treatment. According to the police, there were many eyewitnesses: almost a dozen had to be cared for by pastors because they, like the emergency services, first had to process the terrible events.

The accident happened around 6:45 p.m. on Leonorenstrasse in the southern Berlin district of Lankwitz, when it was already dark. According to initial police findings, the M82 bus left at a bus stop and then hit the teenagers at a nearby pedestrian crossing.

Since they were then trapped, the fire brigade sent other vehicles, including a so-called rescue vehicle, in addition to a helicopter and ambulance. Emergency services first lifted the bus using lifting bags in order to rescue the 14-year-old and treat her in an emergency. Then the rescue vehicle had to raise the vehicle further in order to be able to get out the trapped 15-year-old. An emergency doctor could then only determine her death.

After the accident, the police and rescuers launched a large-scale operation, which also sheds light on the overload of the Berlin rescue service, which urgently needs more staff and more vehicles. The first car was an ambulance nine minutes after the emergency call on site, but the first two ambulances (RTW) only after 20 minutes, according to the fire department.

Deficits in the Berlin Fire Department

According to her spokesman Thomas Kirstein, at the time of the emergency call not a single RTW was available in Berlin. For comparison: Theoretically, there should be around 140 people on average in the city, but this number is no longer reached in practice. When RTW were available again a short time later, the control center sent several to the scene of the accident.

The Berlin fire brigade demanded rapid improvements in the rescue service from politicians. The capacities had not been sufficient for a long time, all employees were working at the limit, Kirstein described. “We urgently need an amendment to the Rescue Service Act and more rescue vehicles so that we can work properly and catch our breath again,” he said. “At the moment we are the cleaners of an insufficiently dimensioned health system.” It can’t go on like this.

Interior Senator promises improvements

The ambulance service in Berlin is heavily overloaded, mainly because staff is scarce and many emergency calls are received that do not relate to real emergencies. But the rescuers also have to take care of that, with the result that it may take longer in real emergencies.

The fire brigade therefore often calls out the “emergency rescue service”, which happened at 10:55 a.m. on the day of the bus accident. Then the helpers have the opportunity to prioritize their assignments more strongly. According to Kirstein, there is also a problem at hospitals. It often takes an hour or more for an ambulance with an emergency patient to find a clinic that is ready to receive them.

Berlin’s Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) promised again on Sunday to improve the situation. “After intensive talks, the negotiations are on the right track,” said a spokeswoman for the interior administration. “Iris Spranger’s indisputable goal is and remains to relieve the rescue workers as quickly and sustainably as possible and thus ensure the protection of everyone in Berlin.” Within the red-green-red Berlin state government, there was recently a dispute about the content of a new rescue service law.

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