I was second in line at a stop light, waiting to turn left onto the on-ramp of an interstate. An ambulance with its lights flashing and its siren sounding approached the light from the off-ramp to my right. Just as it got to the light, the arrow for my lane turned green and without pausing even a second, the blue pickup in front of me raced for the on-ramp. A couple of cars going straight at the light, in lanes next to me, also proceeded through the light the instant it turned green. The ambulance had to wait.
After the ambulance had been let through the light by more polite drivers (and I might add, the light was still green), I pulled onto the on-ramp only to discover that the pickup was only halfway up it. In fact, I drove the next five miles to my exit directly behind that truck. His rush at the light didn’t gain him any distance at all.
Now I have been in an ambulance with a loved one being rushed to the hospital. And I have seen firsthand the disregard of those lights and that siren. I even commented to the ambulance driver that I couldn’t believe no one was pulling over for him, and he replied that this happens all the time. I was furious then because those minutes that he had to weave through traffic and stop behind other cars were precious moments in my loved one’s life. Moments that could have meant her life.
I am certainly not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I do not always obey all traffic rules and my reflexes are not always the fastest, but I always, I’ll say it again, always get (or stay) out of the way for emergency vehicles with their lights and/or sirens on.
We’re all busy. We all have places we need to be. I have also heard stories that emergency vehicles sometimes turn on their sirens and lights to get through traffic even when there isn’t an emergency. I don’t know whether they do or not, but I am not willing to take the chance that by not stopping, I am increasing the danger for another human being, whether I know that person or not.
So the next time you see an ambulance, police car, or fire truck with its sirens blaring and its lights flashing (or just one or the other), I ask that you please think about what you would do if the person having the emergency were a loved one of yours and what you would ask others to do. And think about how those few minutes are needed more by that person than they are by you in that moment. You’ll likely make up the time (and if you don’t it’s probably “a little deal” in the grand scheme of things), but these could be someone else’s last few minutes to get the help he or she needs.
I’m stepping off my soapbox now. Thanks for reading.