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Fed up with emergency service vehicles behaving like morons

By 28 March 2013 72

Recent travels home from work have revealed what I consider abuse of resources by emergency service vehicles.

Within the last 7 days, I have had 2 emergency vehicles – one a 4WD Police Truck, and one a Fire Truck – using their lights and sirens to clear peak hour traffic only to turn them off once past traffic and continue on as normal. The Police truck was traveling southbound on Athlon  Drive last Friday, using lights and siren to clear the right hand lane (he even mounted the median strip to get through an intersection). Once he was clear of the traffic he turned off the signals and carried on his merry way at normal speed, even stopped at the next intersection. Exactly the same happened with a Fire truck on Yamba Drive tonight – using siren and lights to move heavy traffic out of the way before killing the lights and stopping at the next intersection.

This kind of behaviour is dangerous as people are actively moving out of the way of these vehicles, and could cause an accident if someone wasn’t paying enough attention. Frankly emergency services need to be patient an wait in traffic like the rest of us unless they are genuinely attending an emergency.

Has anyone else had similar experiences to this around Canberra?

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72 Responses to Fed up with emergency service vehicles behaving like morons
#1
Cameron10:18 pm, 28 Mar 13

Seconds count. I’ve no problem with emergency services vehicles using their sirens to ensure they are never stuck in traffic.

#2
c_c™10:41 pm, 28 Mar 13

OP sounds like they have a problem with authority figures.

#3
Proboscus10:55 pm, 28 Mar 13

Waah Waah…!!! The sound emanating from your car as an emergency vehicle drives past you.

#4
deye10:56 pm, 28 Mar 13

devils advocate, it could have been something they were were called out for, then cancelled before they got very far.

#5
markbuzz10:58 pm, 28 Mar 13

You sound like you have an issue with them turning off sirens as they head to emergencies and presume that they use the lights and sirens just to avoid the inconvenience of traffic.

The purpose of the lights and sirens is to make traffic etc aware that they are trying to get somewhere urgently, and that they will be exercising their ability to drive in a manner that might contravene standing laws and thus need the attention of drivers (I am sure there is a technical expression for this driving). They use the lights and sirens to clear an intersection or area of traffic and will turn them off when not needed, indeed it will be common to kill the sirens in urban areas or as they approach an accident scene.

With the lights and sirens off, proceeding at normal speed would be entirely appropriate and indeed expected – travelling well above the limit would call for the lights and possibly sirens.

#6
buzz81911:06 pm, 28 Mar 13

Did you stop to think that they were responding to something that needed an urgent response, that got cancelled for some reason ie. a closer vehicle arrived, or the matter wasn’t as reported so the urgent response was not needed?

I know that doesn’t suit your want to whinge, but it can happen.

#7
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd11:14 pm, 28 Mar 13

c_c™ said :

OP sounds like they have a problem with authority figures.

OP does not seem to be very bright.

OP, you you think the firemen get to take the big trucks home and they were using their sirens and lights to get back for dinner on time?

#8
obamabinladen11:19 pm, 28 Mar 13

Boo hoo who gives a fire truck? If i had a siren id use it to beat the traffic too! Hehe

#9
TP 300011:28 pm, 28 Mar 13

So how does the OP know that assistance wasn’t cancelled? Or that new recruits weren’t being trained how to get through traffic?

#10
CeeBee11:36 pm, 28 Mar 13

What, you think they don’t like traffic and need to get to the shops quicker?

I suggest that you are only seeing a small part of the picture. The ‘morons’ in the fire truck would have been going to a fire call – something that they do day in and day out. Every call is different and the nature of the call dictates what resources go and from which stations. For example, a house fire may have up to five different trucks going depending on the information received (as well as ambos, AFP). These trucks generally come from multiple stations.

What you saw tonight was the second / third / fourth truck downgrading from ‘urgent duty driving’ to ‘roadspeed’ – that is, to drive at normal road conditions. This happens when the first truck arrives on site, investigates the incident, and finds that the risk at the incident is minimal. They may still require the other truck to come along (manpower, specialist equipment) but the risk is less that putting others at risk by incoming trucks driving with lights and sirens. An example of this may be a small fire in a house that has been extinguished with all occupants outside, but they still need to get rid of the smoke etc).

Being downgraded happens every day. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened whilst I have been going through an intersection, or as I have just come out of an intersection. Downgrades happen to all services.

I have been employed in emergency services for some 12 years, attending more than 500 a year. I have never been in a vehicle undertaking urgent duty driving when not going to a ‘Priority 1′ job. I have never forced myself through an intersection because I was sick and tired of the traffic and wanted to get out of there faster. Every red light or speed camera activation gets investigated too to make sure that the truck was going to a job. GPS tracking and job data allows this.

Urgent Duty Driving can be dangerous, and that is why coppers, firies and ambos do the driver training that they do.

There are still a lot of muppets on the road who drive on autopilot and can’t think or think it’s all a game – or want to believe that red and blue light Maccas and donut runs do happen…

#11
what_the3:13 am, 29 Mar 13

All I hear was waaaaaa they get to get ahead of traffic and I dont. Boo hoo, suck it up.

Why dont you report them to emergency services if it’s such a great concern. I’m sure they’d be glad to discuss your dire grievances.

#12
JimCharles6:44 am, 29 Mar 13

markbuzz said :

You sound like you have an issue with them turning off sirens as they head to emergencies and presume that they use the lights and sirens just to avoid the inconvenience of traffic.

The purpose of the lights and sirens is to make traffic etc aware that they are trying to get somewhere urgently, and that they will be exercising their ability to drive in a manner that might contravene standing laws and thus need the attention of drivers (I am sure there is a technical expression for this driving). They use the lights and sirens to clear an intersection or area of traffic and will turn them off when not needed, indeed it will be common to kill the sirens in urban areas or as they approach an accident scene.

With the lights and sirens off, proceeding at normal speed would be entirely appropriate and indeed expected – travelling well above the limit would call for the lights and possibly sirens.

The OP even says they stopped at the next intersection, so they obviously weren’t on a job or a rush to get anywhere, they were using the work vehicle to get out of a traffic jam because they didn’t fancy sitting in it with the rest of the proles.
I don’t know of any country (that isn’t a banana republic or Italy) where that’s morally acceptable.
Police and emergency must follow the same rules as the ones they’re appointed to manage, otherwise how do they expect to retain the authority and respect for what they do?
They work for the people and are appointed by “the people”, it’s not an authority issue at all.
Isn’t that a cornerstone of Australian philosophy…where you eliminate the bias of groups expecting special treatment for doing the same thing as everybody else?

#13
wildturkeycanoe7:24 am, 29 Mar 13

Next time they try to get passed you with lights flashing, just sit there in protest and see what happens.

#14
KB19717:28 am, 29 Mar 13

Whenever the ferals are causing a ruckus in the Civic bus interchange the PoPo never scream into the interchange with lights and sirens engaged. Two reasons for this, they don’t want to alert their presence to the ferals & there are so many people wandering around the interchange with their heads up their bum they they would probably clean someone up.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t use them further up the road to get to Civic & then turn them off for the last bit for stealth.

#15
Tool8:56 am, 29 Mar 13

OP is on the money, if I have to wait in traffic so should everyone else, who do these emergency service workers think they are? If the government was serious they would address the big problems like traffic jams and stop these cowboy police and firemen and paramedics hooning around for their own convenience.

#16
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd9:14 am, 29 Mar 13

JimCharles said :

markbuzz said :

You sound like you have an issue with them turning off sirens as they head to emergencies and presume that they use the lights and sirens just to avoid the inconvenience of traffic.

The purpose of the lights and sirens is to make traffic etc aware that they are trying to get somewhere urgently, and that they will be exercising their ability to drive in a manner that might contravene standing laws and thus need the attention of drivers (I am sure there is a technical expression for this driving). They use the lights and sirens to clear an intersection or area of traffic and will turn them off when not needed, indeed it will be common to kill the sirens in urban areas or as they approach an accident scene.

With the lights and sirens off, proceeding at normal speed would be entirely appropriate and indeed expected – travelling well above the limit would call for the lights and possibly sirens.

The OP even says they stopped at the next intersection, so they obviously weren’t on a job or a rush to get anywhere, they were using the work vehicle to get out of a traffic jam because they didn’t fancy sitting in it with the rest of the proles.
I don’t know of any country (that isn’t a banana republic or Italy) where that’s morally acceptable.
Police and emergency must follow the same rules as the ones they’re appointed to manage, otherwise how do they expect to retain the authority and respect for what they do?
They work for the people and are appointed by “the people”, it’s not an authority issue at all.
Isn’t that a cornerstone of Australian philosophy…where you eliminate the bias of groups expecting special treatment for doing the same thing as everybody else?

… Yes they did not want be be stuck in traffic so they turned on their lights so they could get to the next set of lights quicker so they could(wait foooorrrrrrr iiiiiiitttttt…….) get stuck in more traffic.

Makes perfect sense, genius.

#17
fabforty9:21 am, 29 Mar 13

The OP clearly has no understanding of either the rules governing the use of emergency vehicles or the specific circumstances of what these vehicles were responding to.

Perhaps when OP’s house is burning down or someone is attacking him/her with a carving knife, he/she might appreciate that the people who came to the rescue did not wait patiently in traffic for fear of upsetting any motorists who have “lights and sirens envy”.

#18
knuckles9:38 am, 29 Mar 13

JimCharles said :

markbuzz said :

You sound like you have an issue with them turning off sirens as they head to emergencies and presume that they use the lights and sirens just to avoid the inconvenience of traffic.

The purpose of the lights and sirens is to make traffic etc aware that they are trying to get somewhere urgently, and that they will be exercising their ability to drive in a manner that might contravene standing laws and thus need the attention of drivers (I am sure there is a technical expression for this driving). They use the lights and sirens to clear an intersection or area of traffic and will turn them off when not needed, indeed it will be common to kill the sirens in urban areas or as they approach an accident scene.

With the lights and sirens off, proceeding at normal speed would be entirely appropriate and indeed expected – travelling well above the limit would call for the lights and possibly sirens.

The OP even says they stopped at the next intersection, so they obviously weren’t on a job or a rush to get anywhere, they were using the work vehicle to get out of a traffic jam because they didn’t fancy sitting in it with the rest of the proles.
I don’t know of any country (that isn’t a banana republic or Italy) where that’s morally acceptable.
Police and emergency must follow the same rules as the ones they’re appointed to manage, otherwise how do they expect to retain the authority and respect for what they do?
They work for the people and are appointed by “the people”, it’s not an authority issue at all.
Isn’t that a cornerstone of Australian philosophy…where you eliminate the bias of groups expecting special treatment for doing the same thing as everybody else?

Mate,
Looks like your tin foil hat might be slipping off. Better straighten it up.

#19
bundah9:54 am, 29 Mar 13

It would seem magiccars car isn’t so magical after all. In the words of Colonel Kurtz “I’ve seen horrors, horrors that you’ve seen.Horror. Horror has a face…And you must make a friend of horror. Horror and emergency services are your friends.”

#20
Primal10:38 am, 29 Mar 13

Clearly the answer is that all emergency services vehicles should be converted into recumbent bicycles. That way they can use Canberra’s lovely bike path network to get everywhere and never shall OP’s drive have to be disturbed again.

#21
Blen_Carmichael11:38 am, 29 Mar 13

A lot of these concerns would be alleviated if the emergency services were to replace their loud piercing sirens with a gentle rendition of “Greensleeves”. Failing that our next step should be to lobby Helen Watchirs, our resident Human Rights & Discrimination Commissioner.

#22
EvanJames1:05 pm, 29 Mar 13

I’ve seen this too. There’s a lot of emergency services stuff at Fairbairn now. Before they put those bloody traffic lights in, people turning right out of Fairbairn during morning rush hour had a problem, and several of us who commute in from Quangers sometimes saw the cops, waiting to enter Pialligo Ave from Glenora Drive, get sick of it and activate their lights. Traffic would stop, they’d get onto the road, lights off, and proceed at normal speed. They didn’t try it at the big cross roads past the airport, they waited with all the other traffic.

So all the moral outrage in this topic seems to be based on the notion that it doesn’t happen. Well, it does.

#23
el1:06 pm, 29 Mar 13

I’m surprised nobody has made a ‘waaambulance’ joke yet.

After the thorough explanation from CeeBee, will the OP be dining on some humble pie and apologising for getting it quite wrong?

#24
Genie3:50 pm, 29 Mar 13

Ambulances regularly drive down the centre of Northbourne Ave during peak hour, they usually only have lights and sirens on when approaching an intersection, before going up the curb again and dodging trees to get where ever they’re going.

#25
Aeek5:55 pm, 29 Mar 13

We’d do better to teach the muppets amongst the normal drivers.
My current hate is heading south on the Parkway, turning off to Woden.
Can now turn left from the traffic lights as well as the slip lane.
This is defeated by the unthinking drivers in the slip lane who insist on giving way, needlessly.
Aaaaaaaaaaaagh.

#26
Sandman6:32 pm, 29 Mar 13

Maybe they were just trying to get to Black Thunder’s secret location before you.

#27
magiccar97:24 pm, 29 Mar 13

Clearly most people have missed the point of what I was saying.
It wasn’t the fact that they turned off the siren and continued their hurry to the emergency. They turned off everything and slowed back down, stopping at the next set of lights in front of the queue.
Secondly, sure there’s the possibility they were dispatched and then cancelled – but then I ask the question, why is a dispatcher cancelling the call after 20 seconds (conveniently enough time to get through a traffic queue)? Surely they would do a little more checking before assigning a call.
To those who actually read and understood the post, thank you. Obviously other people have had similar experiences. To the rest, don’t come crying to me when someone drives into you trying to move aside for one of these vehicles on a false call.
And finally, YES I am having a whinge, which I’m entitled to if if these vehicles aren’t following the rules like the rest of us do

#28
buzz8197:35 pm, 29 Mar 13

magiccar9 said :

Clearly most people have missed the point of what I was saying.
It wasn’t the fact that they turned off the siren and continued their hurry to the emergency. They turned off everything and slowed back down, stopping at the next set of lights in front of the queue.
Secondly, sure there’s the possibility they were dispatched and then cancelled – but then I ask the question, why is a dispatcher cancelling the call after 20 seconds (conveniently enough time to get through a traffic queue)? Surely they would do a little more checking before assigning a call.
To those who actually read and understood the post, thank you. Obviously other people have had similar experiences. To the rest, don’t come crying to me when someone drives into you trying to move aside for one of these vehicles on a false call.
And finally, YES I am having a whinge, which I’m entitled to if if these vehicles aren’t following the rules like the rest of us do

Clearly you did not use your brain, why would they use their lights and sirens to get through traffic, just to turn them off and stop at the next intersection, why didn’t they just use their lights and sirens all the way to the pub?

Don’t come whinging to use when your house is burnt to the ground because the firies could not get there in time because they were caught in traffic.

#29
Aeek7:49 pm, 29 Mar 13

magiccar9 said :

Secondly, sure there’s the possibility they were dispatched and then cancelled – but then I ask the question, why is a dispatcher cancelling the call after 20 seconds (conveniently enough time to get through a traffic queue)? Surely they would do a little more checking before assigning a call.
/quote]

Its urgent until its not. It may also be a bad idea to stand down while part way through an intersection.

#30
ScienceRules8:24 pm, 29 Mar 13

magiccar9 said :

Clearly most people have missed the point of what I was saying.
It wasn’t the fact that they turned off the siren and continued their hurry to the emergency. They turned off everything and slowed back down, stopping at the next set of lights in front of the queue.
Secondly, sure there’s the possibility they were dispatched and then cancelled – but then I ask the question, why is a dispatcher cancelling the call after 20 seconds (conveniently enough time to get through a traffic queue)? Surely they would do a little more checking before assigning a call.
To those who actually read and understood the post, thank you. Obviously other people have had similar experiences. To the rest, don’t come crying to me when someone drives into you trying to move aside for one of these vehicles on a false call.
And finally, YES I am having a whinge, which I’m entitled to if if these vehicles aren’t following the rules like the rest of us do

Maybe when you’re this far in the hole you should just stop digging.

Calls to emergency services (let’s just use the ambos for an example) are prioritised and dispatched based on the first thing the call taker hears. If someone rings up and says “mum’s having breathing difficulties”, that’s a Priority 1, lights and sirens call. As you’d expect it to be, surely. The ambulance is dispatched on the job during the first couple of sentences made by the caller.

Then as the call taker asks more questions and they find out “yeah, she’s had this chesty cough for a couple of weeks now and we reckon she should go to the doctor but we spent all our dole money on VB and Winnie Blues and need a lift to the hospital”. The job is then downgraded to a lower priority and the crew switches off the noise maker and christmas lights and drops to road speed. Why is this so difficult to understand?

When they don’t have the lights/sirens on they are subject to the same road rules as everyone else so of course they stopped at the next traffic lights. Why would you expect them to do anything different? This happens ALL THE TIME. So yes, you would have seen it over and over. It’s more frustrating for the crew than for poor little you.

Ambos, firies and coppers are paid by the hour, not by the job so it doesn’t matter one whit to them if they get to blast through the next set of lights. If they aren’t on a job they are still at work and their time is the governments anyway.

And finally, they are following the rules, you numpty. Which has been explained to you carefully and on multiple occasions.

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