Pull off the road for emergency workers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 15, 2002

The South has a wonderful tradition, one that is rarely found elsewhere in the United States. As a funeral procession passes by, cars pull over to the side of the road out of respect for the deceased and his or her family. It is a gracious gesture and speaks well of our society.

Yet - how many of these same drivers pull over when the flashing lights of a first responder's vehicle appears in their rearview mirror? Time after time, we have witnessed drivers attempting to beat an ambulance through an intersection, or chug along steadfastly on a narrow, busy road, while the fire truck looms behind it, on its way to an emergency situation? No one's time is more important than that of a rescue worker. Five minutes spent on the side of the road, waiting for the police car, the ambulance, the fire truck, to pass by, could mean a lifetime for the person they are going to.

Ignoring or defying the emergency vehicles is socially irresponsible, when it isn't downright dangerous. Someone's life rests in the hands of these drivers - they should not have to risk their own lives to do their job. Time after time, we hear the tragedies - ambulances wrecked as they broadside, or are broadsided by drivers who ignored the sirens and lights.

Consideration for the rescue worker does not stop when their vehicles do. Often, police officers will be working beside the highway. They have to dodge death every time they step away from the scene because the motorists refuse to slow down. Rubberneckers snarl traffic and add other hazards.

The flashing lights on emergency vehicles mean several things - stop, slow down, get out of the way. Their most important message, however, is "Help is on the way."

Don't stand - or drive - in the way of that help. Pay attention to the lights and sounds, and make way

for the First Responders - and pray that others will do the same if those rescue workers are on their way to you.

It would be a shame of those who would not pull over for the emeregency vehicles found themselves pulling over for their patient's funeral procession.