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Lights & Sirens - What To Do .....

by the Social Diary Safety Educator Columnist Monica Zech
Column #6, January 27th, 2006

Speaking on behalf of "emergency" agencies everywhere - there is an ongoing problem and danger they often face as they respond to 9-1-1 emergency calls...it's motorists who fail to yield to these emergency vehicles when lights and sirens are approaching.

First, thank you to those motorists who do realize the importance of yielding to emergency vehicles when lights and sirens are blaring. But it seems some motorists have either forgotten what to do or they sadly ignore these sirens and lights. Please realize "response time" is crucial in saving lives. If you ignore these emergency crews, such as; fire trucks, ambulance or police, you risk slowing them down, resulting in a possible collision, a costly fine if cited by law enforcement - but you especially risking the lives of those at the destination of those 9-1-1 calls. You can't put a price on the lives of those at risk when you ignore these sirens and fail to pull over. Remember "every second counts"...they could be responding to someone you care about - or someone else's precious loved one. Be reminded they may be responding to a serious injury collision, a structure fire, heart attack, drowning etc., and "delaying" these emergency vehicles could result in someone's untimely death. Please pull over - lives depend on it!

Here's a reminder on some of rules and laws:

What should I do if approached by an emergency vehicle with its light and sirens going?

*When approached (from the front or rear) by an emergency vehicle whose lights and siren are activated, the driver of every other vehicle must yield the right of way.

*In yielding the right of way, you must drive immediately to the right hand edge or curb of the roadway, parallel to the roadway, and clear of any intersection.

*A person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use lane (left lane or carpool/diamond lane) shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit can be accomplished with reasonable safety.

*The operator of every street car shall immediately stop the street car, clear of any intersection, and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

*If you find you can't move, stuck in traffic, turn off your stereo and open your window an inch or two and listen for the emergency responder to give you direction via a public address system on board to help clear a path for them to get by.

*You must stop and remain stopped until the emergency vehicle or vehicles have passed, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.

*All pedestrians upon the roadway shall proceed to the nearest curb or place of safety and remain there until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

*Also know you can be cited for ignoring these lights and sirens. Fees can range around $300 up.

*Please do not play your stereo so loud you can't hear those sirens coming your way. Lives are at risk!

Please be safe! - Monica Zech

For additional fire safety information visit El Cajon Fire.com or for a safety lecture contact me at (619) 441-1615.

* Monica Zech is the Public Information Officer and Safety Educator for the City of El Cajon and for El Cajon Police and Fire Departments. For safety tips please visit El Cajon Fire.com In community work, Zech is the Vice President on the board for the Trauma Research Education Foundation-TREF and a board member with Communities Against Substance Abuse-CASA. In March, Monica received the County's 2005 Individual Health Champion Award for her safety lectures in the community and throughout the county. Zech's Web Site


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