What to Do When an Emergency Vehicle Approaches
Minutes can seem like an eternity when you are experiencing an emergency. If you are calling 911 because you see a house on fire, a loved one is unconscious or someone is breaking into your home, you want help to arrive as quickly as possible. The Marion Fire Department offers these reminders to help ensure they are able to respond as quickly and safely as possible.
Police cars, fire apparatuses and ambulances are frequently delayed because people do not pull over and yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle with its emergency lights or siren activated. Having to wait for people to yield costs valuable time that can literally mean the difference between life and death. When someone stops breathing, irreversible brain death will occur in 4-6 minutes if medical care is not provided. Today, what starts out as a small fire can consume a home in as little as 6-8 minutes.
Some people do not pull over because they are not sure what to do. Iowa law requires that you pull over as far to the right side of the road as you can and come to a complete stop. This allows the emergency vehicle to safely get to the emergency. If you are in a roundabout, continue through the roundabout and then stop as soon as you can. Do not pull over to left side of the road if you are on a multi-lane road. This forces the emergency vehicle to go around you on the right, which interferes with everyone else who has pulled to the right and stopped. Some people panic when an emergency vehicle is behind them. Do not slam on your brakes! As soon as you safely can, pull to the right and stop.
Cars today have great insulation and also have great audio systems so you can play music or even talk on the phone through a Bluetooth connection. The problem with that is that it makes approaching emergency vehicles hard to hear. Pay attention to your mirrors and pay attention to the cars around you. If you notice cars that are approaching are pulling over, check your mirror because there is probably an emergency vehicle coming up behind you. If a car in front of you pulls over, check your mirror for an emergency vehicle.
Never try to follow an emergency vehicle using their lights and sirens. It is common for a family member to try and follow the ambulance to the hospital. However, this is extremely dangerous because people may see the ambulance go through the intersection but not a car trailing behind them. The family members may cause an accident or worse yet; they cause the ambulance to be involved in an accident.
The next time you see an emergency vehicle, pull over quickly to the right and stop so the first responders can help those in need. Remember they could be going to help your neighbor or even a family member!