I was talking to a paramedic about the loudness of an ambulance siren, compared to an automobile horn. An average auto horn is 85 decibels, while an ambulance siren is 120 decibels. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, regular exposure to 110 decibels or more, for one minute, puts a person at risk for permanent hearing loss. Of course the paramedic didn’t hear a word of it, as a normal conversation is 60 decibels. He’d been a paramedic for many years. So, I think he was reading my lips. The siren of an emergency vehicle, to some, is so startling that it sets them into panic mode. When an emergency vehicle is approaching, from any direction, you must move to the right as far as possible. If you cannot move to the right, just stay put and they will find a way around you. In a situation where there is an intersection, some people will run the red light or take a right turn at the red light to get out of the way of the approaching emergency vehicle. Sometimes this action results in a collision. Thus, requiring an additional ambulance to be dispatched. So, again, if you can’t pull over to the right, just stay put.

He also said that they are required to shut off their emergency lights and siren and slow down to the required 20mph in an active school zone. And, the reason for the lights and siren off is because young children may mistake them as an ice cream truck and dart out into traffic. Maybe I’m gullible. But, I want to believe him. That reminded me of an incident in Chicago. Someone unloaded a gun on a pedestrian. And, while the victim lay bleeding on the sidewalk, five ice cream trucks showed up at the scene before the ambulance arrived. There was a crowd gathering and it was certainly hot outside. What better opportunity to make a sale? When the ambulance did arrive, it was impossible for them to get past the ice cream trucks to park near the victim.

As I recall, the ambulance siren sounded nothing like the “Camptown Races” so, again, perhaps the paramedic was yanking my chain about children in a school zone thinking the ambulance may be an ice cream truck. Most kids get dropped off at the door now. Not many walk to school anymore. I told my daughter that my sisters and I would walk to school or ride our bikes to school every day. She said “Didn’t Grandma love you?” Which, if you think about it, totally makes sense. Now, if you let your kids walk to school, they may not come home. So, if you really do love them, you take them to school. Many things have changed since I was a kid. Since September last year, the violation for overtaking a school bus (passing a school bus with the red lights flashing) is now a whopping $1,250.00. All child safety issues are high price tickets. Speeding in an active school zone and exceeding the 20mph (if you were going any slower, you’d be in reverse). Talking on a cell phone in a school zone (unless you hit someone, then you’ll need that phone to call an ambulance). Kids are more important than when I was a kid. Heck, they have seat belts in their buses now and everything!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Emergency Vehicle – Comedy Defensive Driving