Moving over for ambulances - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Moving over for ambulances

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

 Working on an ambulance or in any first responder position is very stressful.

 Lives are at stake, and it can be made worse when the person in front of you refuses to move over and heed your lights and sirens.

Richard Wilkinson is the director of operations for First Response Ambulance service.

"If you're in traffic where obviously the person knows that you're behind them and they're just not going to move." Wilkinson said.

Believe it or not, there have been times when the patient the ambulance was trying to get to was related to the person who refused to move over. This is a situation where Wilkinson says time can not be wasted.   

"Minutes do count. Seconds count. Where after 4 minutes you could get some brain damage. You could get some long term issues that sometimes are uncorrectable." He said. 

The worst cases involve trauma, and they can't tell if the patient is bleeding internally.  

"Obviously, those people we take to the trauma center in Huntsville, which that's our regional trauma center and that again is time, so we want to get here as fast and safely as possible for the patient." Said Wilkinson. 

It can be dangerous for everyone, but ambulance drivers recognize there are times where the other driver has no option.   

"Normally we tell our EMTs and paramedics to turn their lights and sirens off because you wouldn't want to force that person into traffic. So we advise our people, look if there is no place for them to go. And by pushing them, you might push them into traffic."Wilkinson said. 

Wilkinson says it's not just a matter of refusing to move but being distracted.   

"And we get behind someone who is really isn't paying attention um...the radio is up so high they can't hear us.  They're on their cell phone. There are different reasons. And some of it, unfortunately, is the newer cars are so well insulated they can't hear us." He said. 

EMTs and paramedics are already in a situation where they are fighting time.

"The goal that we use is what we call the golden hour. The golden hour for trauma is not to get them to the hospital, to get them to the operating room." said Wilkinson. 

Making it a fast, safe trip is part of the battle to save a life.  

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