CNHI News Service

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February 20, 2013

Failure to yield to emergency vehicles can mean double trouble

ANDERSON, Ind. — The deaths of two paramedics in a crash last weekend has prompted the Indianapolis Emergency Medical Service to issue an appeal.

Their message: Don’t drink and drive; don’t text and drive. Just drive. Pay attention.

Timothy McCormick, 24, and Cody Medley, 22, died of  injuries in a two-vehicle crash. They were in an ambulance together on a non-emergency run when they were hit by a 21-year-old driver. An investigation into the cause of the wreck is continuing.

It illustrated the danger of operating an emergency vehicle on public streets and highways. On average, almost 1,300 U.S. workers per year died from roadway crashes between 2003 and 2009, according to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Emergency runs by medical teams,  hot-pursuit chases by police or time-critical responses by fire trucks are difficult for those doing their job as well as motorists trying to be safe and stay out of the way.

“They (emergency responders) never know what to expect when they go on a call,” Madison County (Ind.) Sheriff Ron Richardson said. “Unfortunately, if people don’t pay attention, it can cost a life.”

Indiana law  says drivers must yield the right-of-way to any emergency vehicle with audible sirens or with flashing lights. The driver should immediately pull parallel to the edge of the road on the right-hand side and stay put until the emergency vehicle has passed.

Failure to yield is a problem “I think we’re seeing more often,” said Anderson (Ind.) fire chief Phil Rogers. “I’m not sure if it’s that they (drivers) don’t know the rules, or they’re in a hurry or if they’re just not paying attention.”

Alexandria Fire Chief Bruce Waters said failure to follow safe driving rules creates a two-fold problem. Not following the rules “can cause traffic danger and also slows our response time. And every second counts,” he said.

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