#Emergency Vehicles Need More Road Respect

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It was a week ago this past Sunday morning that I had to call 911 for an ambulance.


I thought my husband was dead.


After a previous hospital visit and a procedure that followed in another hospital after his release, something went wrong. A few days after that procedure, my husband began to hemorrhage uncontrollably. He suddenly became a ghost shade of white and was unresponsive. He needed blood.



The paramedics arrived within a few short minutes. They were thorough, and compassionate. After clearing a path for the gurney by moving around some furniture and checking his vitals, they got him safely in the ambulance. The fear that arose inside me was insurmountable while I reflected on his ongoing illness over the past few weeks, trying to make some sense out of what on earth was going on.

Besides getting a first-hand experience at what our Canadian health system has been reduced to in the past month, I had my first experience sitting up front in an ambulance. This was certainly a different perspective for me than my own prior illnesses in the past where I was the patient in the back.

While the paramedics were taking good care of my husband, I kept my eyes focused on the road. I know this city is full of bad drivers, but I’d witnessed some particular bad drivers when it came to obeying the laws of the road when emergency vehicles are trying to pass.

I shook my head in disbelief as a few cars didn’t pull over to the right as the siren sounded and we were approaching the cars, which were slowing us down. But the most unbelievable sight was a car that pulled out from a plaza approximately 100 feet in front of us as we were nearing the plaza exit. We had to brake for him while he held up our lane. Not only did he cut us off with his turn to merge into our southbound lane, but he stopped completely, with his car sitting in a diagonal pattern, blocking our lane while waiting to fit into the left turn lane,

I couldn’t get over the fact that the ambulance couldn’t drive in a clear path, nonstop with a siren on. He had to brake at every intersection and stop sign with a loud sounding warning siren, because whether there were oncoming cars or not, he couldn’t assume that people would stop or wouldn’t try and run a red light.

I commented to the driver as he skillfully adjusted to the bad drivers. I told him that what I had witnessed in a 7 minute run to the hospital was horrendous, and that I felt for him as a driver who had to deal with this mayhem every day, several times a day. In those moments, I was grateful that my husband wasn’t dying, but couldn’t help but think about the thousands of patients who get delayed by extra moments it takes to get to a hospital because of ignorant drivers. For many patients, an extra minute could be the difference between life and death.

Please share this. And if you aren’t familiar with emergency protocol when driving, please take a few minutes to go over the rules of the road concerning emergency vehicles, and remind your loved ones to do the same.