*When YOU See An Emergency Vehicle*
Weíve all seen cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances screaming down the road. People will move for a cruiser because itís a cop and they donít want a ticket, BUT frequently people will not move for an ambulance for fire vehicle!! Believe it or not, it happens all the time. Yea, I know youíre thinking, how stupid are people that they wonít move for an emergency vehicle? You have no idea.
In this state, any emergency vehicle operating with lights & sirens HAS the right of way, no ifs ands or buts. By law a motorist is required yield the right of way & to pull as far to the right as far as possible and come to a complete stop. That goes for oncoming traffic also.
You can be summonsed for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and if I get a chance to jot down the plate # or know who you are, you will be.
Let me start off with a couple of examples of ignorant people.
As a firefighter we were responding to a large structure fire at a wreath factory. Upon entering that town with lights & sirens & laying on the air horn, motorists didnít pull off the road. They STOPPED in the road and then we had to try and get around them.
Some people pull to the right and continue doing road speed down the shoulder. Some people tailgate ambulances trying to see whatís happening in the back. Ours was tailgated at 75MPH while en route to an ATV accident. If I get your plate #, youíll get a summons for tailgating. Some people pull out in front of an ambulance or fire truck. When the brakes get slammed on in an ambulance bad things happen. The EMT flies forward and smashes in to a wall (BTDT) and anything unsecured flies tooÖlike the other crew member who slammed into me. Just imagine being a patient and the EMT is starting an IV in your arm. The needle is in and the catheter is being slid in. You hear "HANG ON" and the driver hits the brakes. The EMT flies forward driving the needle hard in to your arm and bad things continue from there, all because some #$@#%$# wants to get in front of the ambulance. Sound like fun?
A few years back our ambulance was broadsided at a 2-way stop intersection. It was creeping into the intersection (bad intersectionÖreally hard to see) with lights & sirens. BAMM!! A car hit its driverís side. Ok, now another ambulance is needed to transport the patient and this one is out of commission. (The impact bent the frame. She impacted at the front left tire. This speeding lady is lucky she didnít hit the driverís door, shy of a couple of feet because the driver would probably have been killed. There would have been hell to pay and I would no longer have a mom). Not to mention the crew getting banged up. The lady who hit the ambulance was doing DOUBLE the speed limit through the intersection. She said she heard the sirens, but was late to work. So that justifies speeding through an intersection? Thatís the cake winner of stupidity!
Last summer in the ambulance we picked up a soaking wet young lady who was unconscious. Possible drowning incident. We have 2 hospitals and theyíre both 30 miles away in either direction. I was driving that night and we had a paramedic intercept on the way. I was running lights & sirens and came up behind a vehicle that wouldnít move. Oncoming traffic was pulling over, but not this guy. I followed him for miles and was unable to pass. We came to a short hill and he slows down (he was only doing 55MPH anyway) and turns on his left, yes his LEFT! directional light. I was almost at a complete stop. An oncoming RV camper pulled over and blocked the road this moron wanted to turn in to so he finally decides to pull off to the rightÖyes, my lights and sirens are still on.
This afternoon we were dispatched to a cardiac arrest with CPR in progress. I had 2 EMTís in back working on the guy and Iím boogying along toward the hospital with a paramedic intercept en route. I got behind the cable TV van puttering along at about 55MPH. This inconsiderate cable guy must have thought he was special because oncoming traffic and the vehicles in front of him were pulling over. MAKE WAY FOR THE CABLE GUY!!! I followed him for about 2 miles until I could finally get by. I laid hard on the air horn as I passed him. Oh, I canít wait to see him again. I had good road and I needed to make time, this guy needed drugs, which means I need to get to the paramedic as safely and quickly as possible.
As one of our old EMT-Iís said "The only fluid thatís going to help this patient is Diesel."
Yes, folks, this stuff happens ALL THE TIME! People are inconsiderate. What if it were them or their family in the back of the ambulance? What if their house was on fire?
When the turd hits the oscillator thereís A LOT of stuff going on right in here. Unless youíve done this job, you have absolutely no idea. Watching 911 on TV is a walk in the park compared to the real deal. Even those of us whoíve been doing this for years get stressed and pumped on adrenaline.
The driver is operating the ambulance AND communicating with the back. Today I was on the radio talking with the paramedic intercept and talking with the hospital. The guys in back canít take a break to talk on the radio. So while operating in an emergency I was the relay guy between whatís going on in back & the hospital. That is a lot of stress just in itself, then throw in people like the cable guy, the tailgaters, people who cut you off. Iím trying to give the crew the best ride possible because you canít be throwing them around when theyíre trying to get the patient intubated or start an IV.
Once we met the intercept we got the medic & another EMT-Intermediate on board. So thereís 4 people in the back doing CPR, maintaining the airway, starting IVís, Sally was pushing drugs, there is A LOT happening. The back of the rig gets trashed, literally trashed.
Some people have the mentality that ambulance people just like to drive fast with lights and sirens and thereís not a real emergency. Bullcrap! Itís not up to a motorist to decide if an ambulance is going to an emergency. Itís up to the motorist to get out of the way.
Other people have the mentality that, "This stupid ambulance blew me off the road, now theyíre sitting on the side of the road with another ambulance." When they catch up. They think weíre just out raising hell and driving fast cuz weíre pulled over now. Then we catch up again and they get pissed off and wonít move.
Thatís not the case. Like today, we met up with the intercept and traffic that I had passed caught up and went by. We sat there for a couple minutes while Sally worked some of her paragod skills, then got back on the move.
Just because you see the ambulance on the side of the road doesnít mean thereís not an emergency. Today we had a FULL cardiac arrest and 4 people working on him.
Some people get upset because emergency vehicles exceed the speed limit. Well Iíll be damned if Iím going to a FULL code with CPR in progress at 25MPH. Our law is written that we can exceed the speed limit (no set amount) as long as we are doing it safely and operating with due regard.
So to sum it up, if you see an emergency vehicle operating with lights, get out of the way. If itís oncoming you probably wonít hear the siren until it almost passes you. If you see one coming up behind you, donít wait till it gets close to try and hear a siren, MOVE!!!!!!!!
We donít drive around with lights and sirens just to feel special, there is a reason!
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