Santa Clara County emergency responders today released a new public service announcement as part of a campaign to remind motorists to turn off the road for speeding ambulances and fire engines.
Board of Supervisors president Ken Yeager joined Sheriff Laurie Smith, county fire Deputy Chief Steve Prziborowski, and EMS system employees at a news conference in San Jose to promote the video made for the county's "Pull to the Right for Sirens and Lights" campaign.
"Our first responders here, when they are out on an emergency call, probably shake their heads all the time when they see drivers do certain things and wonder why they don't turn over to the right," Yeager said.
Emergency medical service crews use emergency sirens and lights about 500 times a day in the county while on their way to pick up or transport patients, according to county health information officer Amy Cornell.
By law, drivers must yield and turn off the road to the right and stop when an emergency vehicle drives behind them with sirens on and lights flashing, but many drivers do not, according to Josh Davies, EMS section chief for the county public health department. "It happens often, on every call," Davies said.
"It's that frequent." Prziborowski said that sometimes in emergencies "just getting to the scene is the most challenging."
"When we are going with lights and siren, that is the probably the most dangerous for us far as fire service, EMS personnel, because in this day and age people get distracted while they are driving," he said.
"It can be very intimidating to folks," Prziborowski said. "We've seen people do everything from pull to the left, pull to the right, go faster, go slower, stop down. It's quite amazing."
"At the end of the day we're trying to get to your place, help you and your loved ones out and yourself out, so please help us help you," Prziborowski said.
Cornell said safety campaign extends through November and the county will be distributing the PSA video to television and radio stations that request it.