Safe Passage - The Public's Responsibility?

For the typical driver, encountering an emergency vehicle with lights and siren activated elicits emotions such as excitement, anxiety and even panic and fear.


There are multiple hazardous conditions that exist on our streets and highways, and many more dangerous situations that emergency vehicle drivers can create or compound. Following some very simple guidelines can remove and/or reduce the danger that exists in many of these situations. Keep your speed at a rate that will allow you to stop before impact as you approach an intersection. If there is a red light, stop for it. After visually clearing each lane, one at a time, proceed with caution through the intersection.

With a few minor changes in mindset we see that safe passage for emergency vehicle operators relies on accepting that the public's responsibility is ill defined from their perspective, and the emergency vehicle operator must accept and adjust to this reality.

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Chuck Van Natter has been active with career and volunteer emergency services for over 25 years. In 2003, he retired from the Department of Fire and Rescue Services of York, PA, where he was a career firefighter. Chuck is a certified instructor with the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, and is certified by Health Communications, Inc. as a TIPS (their alcohol servers program) instructor.