Ernie Verhine has seen all the typical bad reactions.
When the emergency medical technician for Hamilton Emergency Services turns on his ambulance lights and sirens, there are some drivers who heed the signals and pull to the right as required by state law, but there are also many who don’t.
“We’ll have them move to the left, stop on a hill, in front of us. I think most of them think it’s a state law they have to wait until they get to a curve or a hill to pull over,” he joked. “It’s stressful.”
Tony Miller, a paramedic for Hamilton, said it’s apparently stressful for other drivers on the road, too. Many of them, he said, don’t seem to know what to do when an emergency vehicle approaches. State law requires that whenever possible, drivers to pull to the right and stop when on an undivided highway. On divided highways, drivers must pull to the right and slow down to let an emergency vehicle pass.
Georgia’s move-over law also dictates that when possible, motorists must move over a lane when an emergency vehicle with its lights activated is on the side of the road. The law was intended to help save the lives of law enforcement officers and other emergency workers. Some officers and emergency workers have been killed or injured by vehicles that got too close.
Ambulance drivers are taught to pass on the left, Verhine said, so when drivers pull to the left to let the ambulance pass it sometimes means they have nowhere to go. At other times, it just makes navigation more dangerous, he said. Driving in emergency mode, Verhine said, is “probably one of the most stressful parts of the job.”
Many drivers don’t hear the sirens because they have their radios turned up loudly or are dealing with other distractions, Verhine said. Looking in the rearview mirror often enough to be aware of your surroundings can fix that, Miller said.
“That’s why ‘ambulance’ is spelled backwards on the hood, so you’ll recognize it in your rearview mirror,” Miller said.
What about those times when drivers can’t pull over? Miller said most emergency responders understand that and proceed accordingly. For instance, they won’t drive closely behind someone who has no place to pull over, they’ll just ride behind them until there’s a chance to pass, he said. Plus, added Verhine, many times if the driver will just slow down that can give an ambulance a chance to pass more easily.
There’s perhaps no way to accurately determine whether other motorists’ decisions directly impact a patient’s outcome, but one thing is for sure. Not moving out of the way can slow response times. In Whitfield County, every ambulance typically has a paramedic on board who is able to begin potentially life-saving treatment the moment the ambulance arrives. The gravity of the situation is a concept that some drivers apparently don’t grasp. Verhine said he recently worked with a partner to carry a young child for treatment to a hospital in Chattanooga. As they passed one woman in her vehicle, she flipped them off.
“I think if they all thought we might be about to pull in their driveway, they would pull over a little quicker,” Miller said.
Heeding move-over law could save lives
Ernie Verhine has seen all the typical bad reactions.
- Local News
Fired bus driver tells her side of the story
She says they made fun of her age.
She says they ridiculed her voice.
She says they parroted her.
She says some even cursed her.
Bagley quiz bowl wins state championship; invited to nationals
Nineteen members of the Bagley Middle School Junior Beta Club attended the 2013 Georgia Junior Beta Convention in Macon where the Quiz Bowl team won first place in Division II. Two other Bagley students won individual contests to also be invited to national competition.
Ukraine sees largest anti-govt protest since 2004
Angry anti-government protesters toppled a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in the center of Kiev on Sunday and blockaded key government buildings amid huge street protests, raising the stakes in an escalating standoff with President Viktor Yanukovych.
- A Murray Christmas
Memories still run deep 10 years later
Grown men stood at his gravestone and cried.
They were soldiers, all of them together, and 10 years after their friend and comrade died from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device just months short of his last tour in Iraq, the men came from hundreds of miles away to surround Spc. Marshall Edgerton’s widow and two children and honor the man they knew.
A taxing question
Whitfield County recently bought its first new fire truck in six years.
Public hearing on Whitfield budget Monday
Whitfield County can’t keep reaching into its bag of budget tricks much longer, Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said.
Reception for outgoing school board members set for Monday
Dalton Public Schools staff and members of the Dalton Board of Education will honor outgoing board members Mark Orr and Steve Williams at a reception before the regular board meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. at City Hall. A brief ceremony will begin at 6:15 p.m. to highlight their contributions and years of service to the students and staff of Dalton Public Schools. The meeting is schedule for 6:30 p.m.
Patricia Anna Patton Rivers: Emery Center vital to our legacy
This letter is in response to a Letter to the Editor by Mr. Paul A. Tipton, “Good Intentions Are Not Enough.”
‘WuMo’ joins comics lineup
Beginning today, The Daily Citizen is carrying a new comic strip with an odd name: “WuMo.”
- More Local News Headlines
- Fired bus driver tells her side of the story