Sunday, January 10, 2010

You Just Might Save a Life

I invite and encourage you to copy and paste this blog onto your own blogs. Please note my name as the author, but feel free to share it.

This afternoon as I ran my errands, I was stopped at a red light for several minutes. A police car came racing through the intersection, cut across traffic, and pulled up to the curb just outside my window. I looked over and saw a man lying on the grass in front of the business on the corner. The officer shook him, and shook him, and got no response. Chills raced down my arms as I thought, "That man is dead." The officer grabbed the radio off his shoulder and spoke into it, then continued to shake the man on the ground.

From the left, an ambulance pulled up, and another police car as well. Across the intersection, a fire truck came to a stop, unable to cross because of the thick lines of traffic in his way. He laid on his horn and finally was able to cross when the drivers of the cars finally realized that flashing lights, plus a siren, plus a horn, means that something's up.

The man on the ground at last sat up. I took a deep breath of relief, and I'm sure the original officer did, too. At that moment, my light turned and I drove away, so glad that I'd seen that the man was alive before I had to go.

But then my frustration turned to the traffic. It is the law that when you see a police car, fire truck, ambulance, what-have-you, and they displaying their flashing lights, you get out of their way. Obviously, if the sirens are on, you really, really get out of their way. You pull over if you can. You don't go into an intersection if you see an emergency vehicle rushing through it. You always give them the right of way, you let them pass, you do whatever it takes to make sure they get where they are going without delay.

I have seen drivers refuse to pull out of the way of emergency vehicles. I have seen cars zoom in front, feeling that they could get out of the way by just going faster. One day, I was stopped at an intersection when a fire truck came through. The light had been changed to red in all four directions so the truck wouldn't have competition for the road. We all waited, able to hear the siren, knowing the truck was on its way. But then a car from one side of the intersection decided it could make it if it just zoomed on through. It darted out right in front of the fire truck, which had to hit its brakes to avoid a collision. If that crash had taken place, the driver of that car would have kept the firefighters from getting to their destination. Sure, another truck could have been dispatched, but how long would it have taken?

When you're having a heart attack, and you're in terrible pain, you need to know that your call to 9-1-1 was heard and that you will be helped. If you're trapped behind your steering wheel after a bad crash, if someone is breaking into your house, if you just pulled all your children out of their beds and you're huddled on your lawn, watching your house go up in flames, you pray that help is on the way. You need to know that you will be rescued. You need to know that someone is coming who can help you and even save your life. Every second feels like an eternity to you.

If you are one of those drivers who refuses to pull over, you're not only breaking the law, you are guilty of one of the biggest acts of disrespect I can name. Someone is waiting for that fire truck you're blocking. Someone is waiting for that police officer you just cut off. That ambulance that had to honk you out of the way was carrying life-saving supplies to someone whose very survival depended on help's quick arrival. I'm sorry if you're five minutes late to your hair appointment, or if your boss will be mad if you punch in late. I'm sorry if you need to grab some salad to go with dinner and your in-laws will be at your house any minute. Yes, you're in a hurry, but no emergency of yours is as great as the emergency faced by those men and women in uniform who are hurrying to the scene. The slight delay you cause them could mean the difference between life and death for someone.

I urge all of you, regardless of your current level of awareness, to become even more aware. When you see an emergency response vehicle, do a double-take and see if their lights are on, or if they're just going from one place to another. Be mindful that they could get a call on their radios at any time and could go from tooling along down the road to flipping into high gear and needing you out of the way immediately. If you're driving in front of them, keep them in your rearview mirror so you'll know right away if they need you to move. If you see a police officer parked along the side of the road, give the car a wide berth, going out into the median if necessary. Officers get struck and killed by cars zooming by while they are entering or exiting their vehicles, sometimes on very routine calls that should never have cost them their lives.

Selfishness has no place in driving, and it certainly has no place on the same road as emergency vehicles. If you were the person who placed a 9-1-1 call, you've be praying that help arrived immediately and didn't get caught in traffic. Show the same courtesy to others. It's the law, and it's the right thing to do. - Tristi Pinkston

16 comments:

Heather Justesen said...

Hear, hear! As someone who has run the sirens to tell people that the ambulance is behind them, and just had the vehicle putter along at it's regular (slower than the speed limit) pace anyway, thanks for the reminder to everyone.

Word Designer said...

Thank you so much for posting this. There is no reason anyone should cause the delay of an emergency vehicle.

Wordy
Word Designer

L.T. Elliot said...

Amen and Amen!

C.L. (Cindy) Beck, author said...

Great blog!

And another thing motorists should consider. If you impede an emergency vehicle and the individual needing help dies because of it, that makes you at least partially ... if not wholly ... responsible for the death. That makes you responsible for the pain of a wife or husband who weeps that night and for the anguish of children who cry out for their mom or dad in their sleep.

The Damsel In DisDress said...

Thanks for giving voice to something that has concerned me for a long time.

Lee Ann Setzer said...

Well said! I'm going to make the kid with the learner's permit in my house read this!

Cheri Chesley said...

Thank you.

ali said...

I wholeheartedly agree! Thanks for this Tristi.

Jen said...

Wow, I agree too. Great post. Some people just don't think. The problem is, "some people" seem to be getting more and more prolific!

Kimberly said...

So well said Tristi! This is one of my biggest pet peeves in life. No one has the right to play Russian roulette with other people's lives like that. It's not just being discourteous, it's dangerous and potentially deadly.

Lori Nawyn said...

Tristi, this post is right on target. My husband has been a fireman (he was just elected assistant chief) for eleven years. People who impede emergency vehicles are the bane of his existence. I'm going to print this for him. He'll probably send you fan mail and love letters, most likely love letters then fan mail. Thanks!

Hi said...

As the spouse of someone who runs an emergency vehicle I applaud you! We have had enough close calls from people who do not feel inclined to even slow down when they are parked on the side of the road, lights flashing and all. It is a true service to any community that there are people out there willing to rush into a situation to help/save someone and we should treat those living angels with as much courtesy and respect as we can.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I want not concur on it. I assume nice post. Expressly the designation attracted me to read the unscathed story.

Pendragon said...

my little sister is an EMT driver of an ambulance in arizona. you wouldn't believe some of the stories i've heard from her... or maybe you would. either way, everything you say is truth. It's only the difference of a single heart beat--a single moment--between someone's life and death.

they (my little sister included) truly are heroes.

Julie said...

As the wife of a former cop, AMEN. Thanks for posting.

Eric said...

Great post. My dad was a firefighter for 30 years, and he had to deal with this stuff all the time. People never think about the things they don't see - the fires that don't get put out in time because they didn't move over. Thanks for this.

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