Emergency Driving and the number of crashes

I would like to see if there is anyone out there who feels that we just aren't getting the message out about response habits. Wether in our private vehicle or in a department vehicle why is it that all common sense seems to just disappear when people get behind the wheel to respond to a conceved emergency. It seems that at least once a week there is another vehicle crash involving some one responding in a car or truck, and it isn't just a Firefighter thing either. Just today there was an article where a Deputy Sheriff plowed into the back of a line of cars stopped at a red light, and he will be charges with the accident.

What is it going to take to convince people that the Lights & Siren are to notify that you are reponding to assist someone and to let you through, not a free license to drive like an idiot. If you don't get there and crash then you have just become more of the problem and haven't helped anyone. I did a study years ago while managing a smallAmdulance Service, the personnel wanted to know why I placed a 70 MPH limit on response in a rural area. We drove the course at the speed limit (55 MPH) and at faster speeds and while driving 60 or 70 on a clear open road was faster that 55 the difference from 70 MPH to 90 MPH was only 30 or 40 seconds on a twenty mile response. Is that little bit of time worth your life or the life of your partner or someone you might hit.

I welcome comments on this, as I have been thinking seriously about doing a paper to send to all Public Safety Departments.

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Comment by Mark Klaene on February 26, 2009 at 1:01am
so this is a huge subject we could address in so many ways but here are some thoughts that perhaps are out of main stream.

BTW: my background is rural traffic not city so consider that while reading
1. get the cops to slow down -- why does a cop have to drive like lightning to get to a auto accident with injuries ? what are they going to do when they get there anyway . when folks see this behavior and we carry the same lights and sirens they think we should do the same. Ever get past by a cop while responding to a fire ? where is the sense in that ?

2. take off the sirens -- leave the lights and air horns, sirens give false sense of security And increase the heart rate and adreneline flow. air horns will get traffic moving if you really need it and lights let folks know you are responding. the nice thing with air horns are you can't let them run continually so you have to think when to use them and thinking is always good versus just running blind.

3. get dispatch to provide ALL the info we need. many times we never get complete or accurate info and have to assume the worse when in fact there really was no reason to run full code. if others are on scene or there is no true emergency let me know when we are paged.

4. training/training/training, and the chief and other officers must practice what we preach. in my area we can't hardly driver faster than the speed limit due to steep mountain roads. up hill is slow for heavy fire apparatus and down hill -- well lets just say all my folks see what happens to folks that go down our mountain roads too fast and that leaves a pretty vivid picture
Comment by FETC on February 23, 2009 at 4:59pm
If you arrive a few seconds earlier nobody will ever notice... but if you crash along the way and never make it to the scene, the people awaiting your arrival will never forget.

It is not your emergency... it is someone else's - slow down and arrive alive.

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