Emergency responders need us to pay attention

Saturday, March 20, 2021

An accident Tuesday left an ambulance on its side on Shelby Road in Poplar Bluff, after the emergency response vehicle was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

The same day, an oncoming vehicle also struck an ambulance at an intersection in Cape Girardeau.

We were fortunate no serious injuries resulted from either accident.

The Poplar Bluff crew was on its way to an emergency call with lights and sirens sounding, while the Cape Girardeau crew was not.

These accidents highlight something EMS crews face every day.

Butler County EMS manager David Ross noted Tuesday that passenger vehicles today are better insulated against outside sounds.

“They’re all airtight. People are listening to the radio and it’s hard to hear a siren,” he said. “So they’ve got to be paying attention and do what they got to do.”

A 20-year study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that emergency medical personnel are at a higher risk of crashing when compared to other first responders.

The 2014 report looked at accidents that occurred between 1992-2011.

It found there were an estimated 4,500 accidents involving ambulances each year.

Of those, 35% resulted in injury or fatality to at least one occupant of a vehicle involved.

Of the deaths, 63% occurred among an occupant of the other vehicle, and 21% involved the ambulance passenger.

Tuesday’s accident should be a reminder to all of us to pay more attention to emergency vehicles on the road.

And not just to help prevent future accidents, but to help first responders do their jobs.

When we don’t pull over for those sirens because we’re in a hurry or distracted, it costs seconds and minutes that could be crucial for the person on the other side of that emergency.

We pray that it is never you or your loved one waiting for an EMS crew, police officer or firefighter, but we know that if it is, you will want their response to be as quick and safe as possible.

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