Cars must yield to emergency vehiclesPay attention to ambulances, police vehicles and fire trucks DICKINSON - Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew says she’s noticed something she’s not too happy about: Traffic not yielding to emergency vehicles.
By: Beth Wischmeyer The Dickinson Press, Worthington Daily Globe
DICKINSON - Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew says she’s noticed something she’s not too happy about: Traffic not yielding to emergency vehicles.
“People are not pulling over, and they are not yielding,” Brew said.
Those that do pull over, Brew said are still going at a faster rate of speed than should be, which makes Brew concerned for motorists safety.
“We’re sitting there wondering if they are going to roll that vehicle,” Brew said.
But it’s not just ambulance crews that experience the problem.
Brew recalled a recent call on a rural road where fire trucks were not able to get out of a water station area because traffic would not let them through.
“There were so many people sitting there watching and the roads were blocked,” Brew said. “Between the people that are coming to watch the fires and the people going up and down the highways, it’s very dangerous.”
Brew said she’s noticed more traffic due in part to oil fields, but notes the oil field traffic is not the whole problem.
“It’s not the oil tankers,” Brew said. “It is the public out there cruising along.”
Cell phone usage while driving is something Brew has also noticed an increase in.
“When we finally get around somebody or get them to pull over, they’ve been talking on their cell phone,” Brew said. “They are just yakking away, and not paying attention.”
Gary Kostelecky, who has been Stark County’s emergency manager for 11 years, said a person not yielding to emergency vehicles has become old hat.
“It’s been a problem for years,” Kostelecky said. “People don’t always see us coming up behind them. Even with sirens it doesn’t always help. People are getting so lax that they are not really thinking about the problem they are creating by not getting out of the way.”
Kostelecky mentioned that increased cell phone usage is also a problem in Stark County.
“There are a lot of people sitting on that cell phone going down the road and everything around them is oblivious,” Kostelecky said. “It certainly has a bearing on the situation.”
Although it’s always been an issue, even when Kostelecky worked on the ambulance crew in the 70s and 80s, he said it’s becoming more of a problem for reasons unbeknownst to him.
“Maybe it’s the cell phones, maybe it’s the cars themselves being made so much better and quieter inside so you don’t hear those sirens,” Kostelecky said. “A lot of people don’t watch their rearview mirror a lot of the time.”
Brew said that in cases where an ambulance is out on a call, the crews try to limit the use of lights and sirens unless the call is severe as not to scare people.
“Usually if the call isn’t too severe we try to turn off the lights at Wal-Mart so we don’t scare anybody,” Brew said.
Although there is not any bad weather or icy roads, Brew fears that once winter does hit, there could be some accidents due to the lack of attention to emergency vehicles.
“That’s coming, so we want to get through to these people now,” Brew said. “You can’t beat an ambulance, and if there’s a fire truck, someone’s in trouble, so please get out of the way.”
To John Q. Public, Brew asks that those on the road with emergency vehicles abide by the rules of the road and yield to emergency vehicles.
“Please, please, please pay attention,” Brew said. “We don’t want to wreck an emergency vehicle and we don’t want to have a wreck with you. Watch for the flashing lights.”