Respecting sirens. Respecting lives.


Sirens … paramedics, ambulances, fire trucks … frequently passing my home … at all hours, and for all reasons. After years of living down the street from a fire station, you’d think they would become easy to ignore.


They don’t. I’ll never ignore them, and here is why you shouldn’t either—especially while on the road.


Ever get annoyed while you are driving, stopped at a light, or effectively parked on the freeway, and have to pull over or find yourself rerouted to get out of the way of an emergency services vehicle? Does it annoy you? Please don’t let it, because something far greater than your inconvenience is at stake.


A siren means someone is in danger, maybe even in the process of dying. Every second counts — EVERY. LAST. ONE. A second lost may be the second a life could have been saved or a limb could have been spared. Imagine driving to work, late as can be, and having a paramedic unit come up behind you, sirens blaring. Maybe you groan before thinking about moving out of the way. Maybe you take a moment to see if they find a way around you so you don’t have to move. Maybe you just hang fire because you know the light is about to change, and it will be more convenient to get over a lane then than it is to inch over now. Now think about where those first responders are going. Is someone having a heart attack? Is the destination an accident where there are life-threatening injuries? Does a knife attack victim have only a moment before he bleeds out? Now think about what being a few seconds late to work means to you versus what the paramedics taking a few seconds longer means to someone on the brink of death.


My father had heart issues. I’ll never forget standing outside of the house and hearing the sirens of a paramedic unit in the distance. If I heard their horn, it meant someone was not respecting the urgent need for them to get to my ailing father. Would those lost seconds make the difference between life and death? Would he not see me graduate high school because someone couldn’t be bothered to get out of the way? How much would our lives change because one person failed to move?


Fortunately, we were lucky, and Dad always made it through those episodes. I also learned to respect sirens. I get the hell out of the way, and I do it fast. I’ll gladly be inconvenienced if it means saving your life. I hope you would do the same for me.