Day in, day out emergency services – ambulance, police, fire brigade, RFS and even the SES – fight their way through traffic.
Local ambulance paramedics have made a passionate plea to motorists to show them some courtesy on the roads.
Bomaderry Ambulance station officer Scott Styles said it was almost an everyday occurrence that motorists did not get out of the way when vehicles were under lights and sirens.
“It is extremely frustrating. Motorists just don’t move out of the way,” he said.
“Under lights and sirens we are on our way to alifesaving emergency, yet motorists don’t seem to realise and just stay where they are on the roadway.”
That often forces officers to take evasive action to get to their emergency, which increases the danger they face on the roads.
He said previously motorists were always urged to pull over to the left and come to a stop.
“Things have changed a little but we still urge motorists to pull to the left where safe and reduce speed to allow us to pass,” he said.
“Ideally, moving to the left lane gives us and other emergency vehicles the capability to get around.
“On occasions where we encounter a road blockage, like at red traffic lights etc, if there is nowhere for the traffic to be able to move we will cross median strips.
“We have even had situations where cars are pulling to the right onto the middle of the road or median strips. Of course we use all caution in getting to the emergency. And we certainly don’t encourage motorists to break the road rules.
“However, where possible and where it is safe to do so, please pull to the left and slow down.
“I know at times it can be difficult and people do often panic when an emergency services vehicle comes up behind them but if they move to the left it allows us to safely travel through.
“I often put it this way; if we were on our way to respond to an emergency for your family you would want us there as soon as possible. By showing commonsense and where possible getting out of our way, we can respond to the emergency as quickly as possible.
“In many life-threatening situations, seconds can mean the difference between life and death, yet we are often held up by inconsiderate motorists, who simply don’t or won’t get out of the way.”
He said the majority of motorists did the right thing and moved out of the way but there was a number that did not.
Mr Styles said paramedics on their way to emergencies were always well aware of traffic around them and plan their possible route ahead.
“Motorists should realise that in an ambulance, the paramedics sit higher than normal traffic and have a better view of the traffic and road ahead,” he said.
“We are also planning well ahead of us on the road.
“We might have traffic in front of us but we are often already planning for hundreds of metres down the road.”
He urged motorists to be more vigilant.
“Check your mirrors regularly, don’t have music blaring so loud that you can’t hear things,” he said.
“In modern cars, with windows up and soundproofing, people can sometimes be oblivious to the sirens, but our cars have even more lights than ever before and are easy to see.
“They really show up extremely well nowadays.
“There is no excuse for motorist to not see them operating with flashing lights.”
What you should do
THE NSW Ambulance Service has put out a simple guide and rules for motorists to follow.
• Give way when you hear a siren or see flashing lights as soon as it is practical and safe.
• It is preferable for drivers to move to the left and slow down once out of the way of the ambulance.
• Don’t panic and don’t break traffic rules.
• Be aware that occasionally there are two or more emergency vehicles responding to an incident.
• Check mirrors carefully before moving back into the lane.
• Never tailgate an ambulance responding to an emergency.