Reported By: David Whisenant
They respond to our cries for help 24 hours a day but something drivers often do can put emergency workers in danger and slow their response.
As part of national EMS week, MEDIC in Charlotte showed us how some drivers don't get out of the way of an ambulance.
It seems so easy, you hear the siren, check your mirrors and see an ambulance coming up behind you, so you pull to the right, but we got an inside look at lots of drivers and pedestrians who just seem to ignore the ambulance.
Video from the passenger seat of a MEDIC ambulance responding to a call in Center City shows most drivers do the right thing and pull over out of the way. But at another intersection, drivers keep coming through, blocking the ambulance, then as they near the call, sirens blaring, red lights flashing, pedestrians in the cross walk seem to pay no attention, and some drivers seem unsure of just what to do, where to go.
Cars are very insulated now, we have our own lives going on, all of a sudden people look up, they see that ambulance in that rearview mirror and they panic, they do everything from stopping at 60 miles an hour, locking down the brakes, pulling left into oncoming traffic-- you name it, we've probably seen it in the course of the day."
Another call on Wilkinson Boulevard shows the driver of the Lincoln pulls right out in front of the ambulance, then seems to realize it and pull over. You may not realize it, but that is the most dangerous part of the call for the emergency responders.
"Getting to and from the scene is most likely where we are going to be injured or killed, either being on that scene or moving from one place to another."
Seconds count, somewhere a victim is waiting for desperately needed help, if drivers don't get out of the way, they can put that help on hold. That's why as part of EMS Week you'll see these signs along the interstates.
We did this story with MEDIC in Mecklenburg County, but it's the same message no matter where you live. All the way to Driver's Ed, if you see and hear the emergency vehicle coming up behind you, pull to the right, and if you don't, not only are you putting a life at risk, I've heard on the scanner before where emergency workers used their radios to call in license tag numbers to police, and have drivers arrested.
Mecklenburg County's EMS is one of the busiest in the southeast. Last year they responded to more than 92,000 calls.
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