Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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February 25, 2013

EMS crews hope recent events lead to more aware driving

The recent deaths of two paramedics here has Emergency Medical Service providers hoping that motorists will learn from the tragedy and keep a watchful eye out for emergency vehicles. They’re hoping the loss of their brethren will at least serve as a wake up call.

Timothy McCormick, 24, and Cody Medley, 22, died a week ago when their ambulance was struck by a vehicle driven by Jade Hammer, 21. The ambulance was not on an emergency run at the time of the accident.

The crash is still under investigation, but as of press time, Hammer had not been charged.

Carl Rochelle, a Plainfield resident and paramedic for 16 years in Indianapolis, says distracted driving is as bad as ever. He said motorists need to put down their phones, turn down the stereos, and focus on what’s going on around them. Indiana Code 9.21.8 sets the standard for yielding the right of way to emergency vehicles.

Rochelle said the distracted driving of other motorists is the biggest hindrance for emergency crews.

“Children, grocery lists, phones, stereos, limiting those on the front side help make more attentive drivers and actually decrease the amount of runs we respond to,” he said. “I’ve actually seen people texting while I’m making an emergency response.”

Rochelle said one thing that contributes to distracted driving but doesn’t get much publicity is in-car noise.

“Manufacturers over the last 10 to 15 years have made cars more aerodynamic and sound resistant so you can enjoy your stereo and cell phone conversation,” he said. “As they work to trap inside noise and prevent outside noise from coming in, people aren’t seeing sirens or lights until it’s within 40 to 50 feet of them.”

He said the optimal response is for motorists to veer to the right to let emergency vehicles pass. Even when that’s not possible, he said, motorists should still know how to act.

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