Thursday, August 7, 2008

Please Don't Kill Me

I have a dangerous job. We do what we do based on risk factors. What do we gain? Is it worth it? Am I afraid? Of what? A big fire? Terrorist attacks? A big earthquake? A psycho killer? Zombie attacks? No. I'm more afraid of you, driving in your car.

WHAT?!?!? Yes, you heard me. You. driving. in. your. car. All of us who drive Emergency, or lights and sirens, know that we have to watch out for you. Why? Because vehicles are made differently now. There's sound deadening, extra loud stereo systems, air conditioners and fans blowing. You usually can't hear us coming until we're right behind you. And you're still looking for where we are.

The worst drivers are the ones that don't know what to do. The law is, vehicles on BOTH sides of the street, and cross traffic, "Pull to the right and stop." Not, pull to the left. Not, pull to the right and roll. Not, drive faster and hope the Emergency vehicle turns onto another street. Not, I don't really have to stop until I get to the intersection. NOT, Gee the Emergency vehicle isn't going that fast, I'm in a hurry, I'll just drive past it. Not, if I hurry up and get into the left turn lane, I'll be safe. If you're in the left turn lane, you're supposed to, get this, "Pull to the right and stop." But that's not practical, because you'll end up in the middle of the intersection and make things worse for both of us. You've already have gotten in the way by being in the left turn lane, now stay there and we'll try to go around you. Because you're more important.

Practically, you don't have to pull to the right all the way to the curb all the time. The safest place for an Emergency vehicle to drive is right down the center of the street. That way, it is on the driver's side of all vehicles, and can be seen by drivers going in both directions. So, if there is more than one lane going the same way, just clear the number one lane.

And you've heard it before, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you are in the way, and an Emergency vehicle has to go around you, then you just caused it to NOT go the shortest distance. This doesn't matter so much for one car, but have you ever seen an Emergency vehicle do a slalom around multiple cars? I have. Other things that slow us down, are pedestrians who cross streets right in front of us. You only have an excuse if you are deaf, and even deaf people don't cross, because they are more aware of their surroundings and will notice the flashing lights.

The others who slow us down are people who cross in front of us, and then "pull to the right and stop." This happens mostly when we pull out of the Station. When an Emergency vehicle is pulling out of a building or driveway, you should just stop, if safe to do so. Crossing in front of an Emergency vehicle, and then pulling over is keeping us from getting anywhere.

And the absolutely WORST drivers, are the ones on Cell phones. No arguments! I have seen many clueless drivers still on the phone while getting in my way. They are in their own world and are a hazard to all.

Incidentally, do you know that the only legal requirement for an Emergency vehicle to go emergency, is "One steady red burning light." Yes, not the multiple flashing lights all around, and not even a siren, just, "One steady red burning light."

Now, why is this dangerous? Why am I asking you not to kill me? Well there's two reasons.

One. Driving emergency is dangerous if there is an accident. Pay attention. An Ambulance weighs over 8000 pounds. A Fire Engine weighs over 30,000 pounds. You are more likely to die if you get into an accident with one of these. But Fire Dept members have been seriously hurt in accidents, and some have even died.

Two. When you are behind an Emergency vehicle that is driving the same direction that you are headed, and it stops at it's destination, what do you do? You drive around them, don't you. Why? Because you are going where you need to go and nothing else matters. So, "What's wrong with that" you ask? Well someone called 911. That means they have an emergency. Maybe it's life or death, maybe not. But we were called, and we drove there. Now we have to GET OUT of the vehicle to help whoever called. But you are driving past our doors at 35mph, and we can't get out. Has anyone ever gotten out of an Emergency vehicle and got hit by a car and killed? YES! And I know someone who almost got hit by a bus! Missed him by one inch. The Ambulance door did not survive.

When you read this, you might think, "Wow, I never thought of that." Many of us have tunnel vision, and are short-sighted. Try to look at "The Big Picture" and then you might start to see things in a different light.


Pupcakes said...

don't forget about pedestrians...
I often see people in westwood cross when the light turns green even though there is an emergency vehicle approching with sirens & flashing lights on! They think -If I run I can make it. I know the driver has to slow down for those idiots.

Ninja said...

That is true, but I didn't write it because they won't kill me. I should add something about people who slow me down.