Emergency responders must outsmart dangerous drivers every day

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A siren is a sound that is meant to clear a path for first responders, but often times it sends drivers into a panic.

American Medical Response (AMR) Manager of Operations Greg Doyle said, "It's scary when you see someone in front of you not stopping or swerving."

During a ride along on Cowan Road, one driver almost swerved into oncoming traffic as an emergency vehicle approached.

"First thing is to remain calm, carefully move to the right and stop to clear a path for the emergency vehicle," AMR Community Relations Manager Butch Oberhoff said. "Remember most emergency vehicle operators have been taught to control the intersection by moving to the left, so never pull to the left."

As soon as you see an emergency vehicle, you should pull to the right and stop if you can.

"Be patient with us," Doyle said. "Not just AMR, but the fire trucks and county fire services, because we may be trying to help someone you know and you may love."

If you are stopped at a red light and an emergency vehicle approaches, keep in mind the drivers who have the right of way may not hear or see the sirens and lights.

"If everyone cooperates and those in the right lane move to the shoulder, those in the center move to the right as simply and carefully as they can, then it will usually create a lane of traffic for the emergency vehicle," Oberhoff explained.

Another dangerous habit American Medical Response staff members say they see every day is drivers trying to follow right behind the ambulance.

"When someone is right behind us thinking they are going to beat the red light, they are probably going to get in a wreck, get hit behind us. We call those wake accidents and they are pretty common," Doyle said. "Every day our number one goal is taking care of our patients and then it is going home to our family safely."

In Mississippi, it's also the law. Drivers who do not move over for emergency vehicles can be fined $200.

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