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‘Every minute counts’: B.C. drivers reminded to pull over for ambulances

Paramedics say they deal with drivers not obeying the rules daily

B.C. paramedics say it’s all too common that drivers don’t yield to ambulances with lights and sirens.

B.C. Emergency Health Services paramedics Jasprit Khandal and Brian Twaites are reminding drivers to slow down, move over and yield to ambulances when they have their lights and sirens on.

“Honestly, it’s all too frequently. Our ambulances are on the road 24/7 and it happens every day. We don’t keep track of cases where this happens because it happened so often,” said Khandal of drivers getting in the way of emergency vehicles.

As a paramedic driving an ambulance for 37 years, Twaites said it was a daily occurrence.

So as police across the province are reminding drivers to be aware on the roads as students head back to school, Twaites said BCEHS’s reminder fits in well.

When drivers see or hear an ambulance with lights and sirens, Twaites said to: never block the route of an emergency vehicle, never stop in an intersection, always use signals to indicate to the ambulance driver that you see them coming, never slam on your breaks, pull over to the curb and once an emergency vehicle has passed check to make sure others aren’t following behind.

This also applies to pedestrians and cyclists.

“We don’t want you to just step into the crosswalk and keep walking because that’s a hindrance to us as well.”

Khandal said when you see an ambulance with flashing lights and sirens, it’s because of an urgent call.

“This means somebody’s life is at risk, somebody’s life in your community. It could be a neighbour, it could be a family member,” she noted.

“You don’t know where the ambulance is heading and anybody that’s disregarding the rules of the road and not pulling over safely for ambulances hinders us getting to the patient and sometimes every second counts, every minute counts.”

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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