I wanna know: What to do as emergency vehicles approach - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

I wanna know: What to do as emergency vehicles approach

Posted: Updated:

 Imagine you're in traffic inching along the I-210 bridge and suddenly an ambulance is behind you trying to get through.   It happened to a local woman who found herself unsure of what to do to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. 
Emergency responders say sometimes seconds count when it comes to getting to someone who needs immediate help.  Yet driver distraction and uncertainty seem to be a sign of the times explains Sergeant James Anderson with Louisiana State Police.

"It is a problem we see as first responders, the deer in the headlights where people don't move.  They don't react.  We need people to try to do something if it's safe for them to do so in order to clear the way.  It may be their loved one, their friend that we're trying to get to, to render aid to," said Anderson.

Mark Conner is a supervisor with Acadian Ambulance.  He says years of experience have taught him how unpredictable drivers can be when an emergency vehicle approaches.

"This guy's doing a good move," says Conner as he maneuvers around a line of cars at a red light.  "That's a good fair move.  Most of these guys I don't know what they're going to do.  So, what you do, you pass every one of them slow enough to let them know where you're going at the red light.," said Conner.

" Now I gotta green light and I've gotta worry about these people.  See how he went forward? Gotta worry about that because he has no clue because he's not looking at my blinker.  He's looking at my top light," he said.

It doesn't take long riding in an ambulance to realize that a lot of people apparently don't know what to do or simply don't do what they're supposed to do.

"Got people still traveling. People just don't hear," said Conner, with lights flashing and sirens sounding.
"I think a lot of people know what to do but the reaction time they have they forget to do it because of lack of attention is not conducive to making a good decision fast enough. The other half just choose not to do it, I guess, in my opinion.  Everybody's in a rush, everybody's got an agenda, everybody has to go to work or get back from lunch," said Conner.
Generally the rule is pull to the right and stop. Yet on a bridge:
"If each vehicle can pull as far left and right as possible opening up the center lane, and we would be able to travel down the center lane, That would only be in gridlock traffic and immovable traffic," said Conner.

And of course it's important to avoid sudden moves that could cause a secondary accident.
Sometimes special circumstances require special maneuvers.  Look for guidance from police at the scene just as Conner would.  Sometimes the police will
signal an ambulance to on the wrong side of the road to reach an injured person.

And, along the same lines, Anderson reminds drivers they should move to a lane away from emergency vehicles working on the side of the road, especially on the interstate where traffic moves at high speeds.

"If you come across an emergency vehicle on the shoulder or a vehicle making use of amber lights, you're required to move over if you can do so safety and if not, state law requires you to reduce your speed," said Andersen.

"We had a situation in Breaux Bridge a few months ago where a tow truck driver died because a driver failed to move over," he said.

If in doubt about how to react in various situations contact local law enforcement for guidance. 

For a link to state law on the subject of how to react in various situations involving emergency vehicles click here.

Copyright 2014 KPLC All rights reserved


Powered by WorldNow