“We see a lot of hard stops when we’re responding, cars that all the sudden see us in their mirror and hit the brakes,” he said. “That’s not good. It causes us to have to take maneuvers to avoid an accident. Don’t move into an intersection. We will always try to pass on the left hand side of traffic.
“When it’s safe, we’ll move to the opposite side of the roadway, taking advantage if one exists. At an intersection, we’ll drop our sirens. We don’t want to put people into harm’s way by pushing them through an intersection. At that point, if they’re unable to move to the right, staying where they are is better than pulling into an intersection.”
Emergency runs, he reminds, can be a matter of life or death.
“Seconds do count, especially when you’re talking about cardiac arrests in particular, being able to return circulation (to the patient) and deliver life saving defibrillation or medications,” Rochelle said. “Seconds do make the difference also with folks that would be suffering a major traumatic injury and getting them to more definitive care.”
He said anyone can be guilty of distracted driving, but it is generally more of a problem with younger motorists.
“It’s more of a problem amongst teens,” he said. “They don’t have the driving experience behind them that they need to look up and check traffic. If we look at (distracted driving), it’s not just texting, it’s general cell phone use. You’re tying up a hand. Your mind is distracted.”
He reminds all motorists to also watch for emergency vehicles that are stopped.
“We often have runs where we have to park in the street,” he said. “We’re on the shoulder, but we have a few lanes of traffic. Drop the speed and move away. Being aware of the fact that there’s a stopped emergency vehicle would be very helpful.”