Friday, July 10

You Make the Call...Traffic

You are in your assigned first response vehicle.

If you usually drive an ambulance, you are in one.

If you're in an engine, you are in one.

In a police vehicle, you get the picture.

This applies to your situation.

You have been dispatched to a multiple motor vehicle accident with report of victims trapped blocking all lanes of traffic 2 miles away.
You are responding lights and sirens, emergency traffic.

This is what you encounter:Do you force the turn lane through the red light?

Do you "hop" the curb to the left an oppose traffic?

Do you shut down and wait?

You make the call.
Include in your post what type of vehicle you are in.


Medic(three) said...

shut down and wait. Second light turns, go hot. We don't jump curbs... F'ing drive cams.

Medic(three) said...

Oh, and I'm in an ambulance. The only people who 30 seconds matter for will die in the end anyways. Further... if they are trapped... fire can help them more before I get there than I can with stethoscope and lifepack.

Chris said...


Difficult to see what traffic is like after the lights from here, but wait for lights to turn green, hope other traffic and you can get through. If not, carefully cross over the central reservation whilst the lights are in your favour, and get back into your lane as soon as you can

Medic7 said...

Ambulance. Shut down and wait.

Student Paramedic said...

I'm from the UK so don't really understand the junction layout.

I would leave on audio and visual warning devices, pull up behind the shortest line of traffic and let them either pull forward or the two lines of traffic part for you to drive between.

In either an Ambulance or an RRV

FireCritic said...


Typically, my officer will have the siren. Although if he is busy then I take care of it (we both have fed. Q and air horn foot pedals).

Therefore, it is kind of up to whether he lets up on the siren or not. I usually don't run up real quick on stopped traffic and make sure that we are plenty loud coming down the street.

So we either lay off on the siren and nose up to traffic until the light changes or we keep on the noise but keep our distance and see if they make a gap.

I should also note that we have opticom systems at most of our lights so this isn't an "every call" occurrence.

As for jumping the curb. I have only done that once intentionally. and will not do it again unless I have to. I have no problem crossing the double yellow if I have enough visual on LACK of oncoming traffic.

Capt. Schmoe said...

We do this all of the time. As I sit in the rights seat, I control the siren and air horn.

My engineer usually see this coming and goes opposing traffic in a safe,expeditious manner.

If we fail to do that we will continue to provide audible warning, though not too obnoxiously and wait for the traffic to make a hole, then proceed through the intersection and go opposing if necessary, all according to dept. policy.

Ckemtp said...

Ambulance, ALS Interceptor (sounds cooler than "SUV with red lights", and BRT (Big Red Truck)

Depends, we don't have drive cams (yay!) and "3rd laning (lane-Ing) it" whereby you cross into oncoming traffic if none is present is common. However, if there is a median I usually don't do that (unless there's a tour-bus into a day care or a confirmed structure fire with victims trapped)

I have a mortal fear of pushing traffic into intersections against the light. So I almost always recognize those situations and shut down and wait. I've never caused an accident at an intersection by pushing traffic through, but I know people who have. I couldn't stomach the guilt if I got someone hurt.

At one of my jobs, we have opticoms (traffic light preemptors) on all of our lights and trucks. They make things a lot safer, quicker, and easier.

mrs. fuzz said...

Can you force traffic in a turning lane through a red light? As a driver with lights behind me I would want to move out of the way but not know what to do.

I was wondering why people sometimes refer to you as meat in the seat. I can't figure it out.

Ckemtp said...

I'll field this one. We get called "Meat in the seat" because most of us get paid like we're someone with a pulse and an EMT card. As long as there's meat in the seat, the doors'll go up and the trucks'll go out.

See Further:

Anonymous said...

You are the professional driver. The public thinks you know the laws and will move against traffic if you push them. Shut down till the light is in your favor then light up as traffic starts moving and you can safely proceed. You didn't cause the call you are responding to, but you can prevent ones on your way. The Angry Captain

Music Medic said...

I'm Curious, What you you do Happy Medic? I've seen several different approaches to this situation in my small career, However I've never been in the drivers-seat during them. What's your department's policy?

Anonymous said...

I would leave blues on but shut down the siren and just sit and wait. That way I wouldn't be 'forcing' anyone through the junction. This would be in either the ambulance or the rapid response car.

P.s this post has just reminded me of something that will make a great and hopefully funny post, coming soon!!

Anonymous said...

I've been in similar situations and it played out a little differently each time. Not sure of what the layout of streets is in this picture, but I'd try to take the nearest paralell streets to avoid the traffic. As far as crossing into oncoming traffic on a divided highway, the situation sometimes warrants it, but to go at a VERY slow speed. My Department also has Opticoms on all apparatus and has traffic lights equipped with the sensors in congested areas. As far as 'nudging' cars in the turn lane, it all depends if cross traffic has stopped for us. Otherwise, we'd shut off the siren and wait. Yet another option could be having a second due Engine approach from a different direction and let them handle the call if they can get there sooner. It all boils down to knowing your area. Triple J

Anonymous said...

UK Coastguard - generally drive Hilux pickup with lights and sirens. In this scenario as the driver is clearly positioned in the left lane we would shut down and wait, triggering the warning devices as soon as the lights go green. Alternatively with a little extra advance positioning I'd put the vehicle on the white line allowing traffic in front (both lanes) to move slightly to one side (a'la parting the red sea) and proceed.

MotorCop said...

I've been away from the blogosphere of late...Sorry to be late to the party.

I'm on a f'n motorcycle, brother. I split the lanes and beat all of you there by about three minutes.


Aled said...

UK Mountain Rescue.

Difficult question, mainly because it depends on a number of factors, most of which would be "local knowledge".

For this particular, with a median and no other safe route, I'd shut off the noise and, if possible, forward facing lights leaving rearward lights on. I'd stop a way back from the trafic, giving me plenty of space to manouever when the lights go green, then light 'em all up as soon as they do go green.

Fink said...

Fire truck, we will hop the curb every time, no questions asked. We Aussie's are nuts.