Ambulance Etiquette

January 6, 2017

Do you know what to do when an ambulance come up behind you, sirens blaring and lights flashing?

It is a question all motorists ask themselves at some point.

It is a situation Queensland Ambulance Service is hoping to avoid through the release of a video to its Facebook page today.

The vision, shot by a dashcam mounted to an ambulance trying to make its way through Brisbane’s busy CBD, shows the struggles paramedics face through heavy congestion, constant traffic light stops, and motorists unsure of what to do.

“This is the reality facing paramedics driving through busy city traffic to serious and life-threatening emergencies” the Facebook post read.

What you should do around emergency vehicles

 Slow down

 Move left to give the vehicle a clear run down the middle of the road. If you can’t move left safely, stay where you are and let the emergency vehicle overtake you

 Not move your vehicle suddenly

 Not drive into the path of the emergency vehicle

QAS paramedic Lara King said being behind the wheel of an ambulance in heavy traffic responding to an emergency situation could be hectic.

“It’s a very intense experience and it can be quite stressful for the paramedics because people can be quite unpredictable” she said.

“You don’t know what the average person is thinking about or concentrating on at any one moment and we have to try and anticipate how they’re going to react and how we’re going to respond to that again.”

Ms King urged motorists to be aware of their surroundings, scan their mirrors regularly and move calmly and carefully out of the way if an ambulance is approaching with lights and sirens on.

“Slowing down and being careful is really important, because some people can have a moment of panic and slam on the brakes.”

She said while it was usually recommended that motorists move to the left so an ambulance could pass down the centre of the road, it was not the “be all and end all.”

“Sometimes we can move to the outer edges of the road or go down the other side of the road,” she said.

“The important thing is staying calm, slowing down and watching what the ambulance is doing.”

Ms King said most issues came whenever there is heavy congestion, especially around traffic lights.

She said the best thing motorists could do if they were stuck at a red light with an ambulance behind them with its sirens and lights activated was to wait for the lights to change.

“If it’s not safe to be moving to the side or moving through an intersection we don’t want people to be doing it,” she said.

“We don’t want people to be getting into more accidents just to try let us through, we need them to be safe.”

Under Queensland law, motorists can be fined for not giving way to emergency vehicles when safe to do so.

Moving into the path of emergency vehicles flashing blue or red lights or sounding an alarm can cost three demerit points and a fine of $284.

The same penalties apply for failing to move out of the way of an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens operating.

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