Statement on Lights and Sirens Use in Response to Emergencies in Berrien County
Apr 18, 2016
(ST. JOSEPH) – Mary Ann Pater, RN, JD, Berrien County Medical Control Authority Chair:
In an effort to improve the safety of emergency personnel and the general public, the Berrien County Medical Control Authority has directed the reduction of the use of sirens and lights when responding to emergency calls.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are an average of 4,500 motor vehicle crashes involving an ambulance each year, with numerous accidents attributed to use of emergency lights and sirens which cause disruption in the standard traffic laws drivers are accustomed to. Of those persons killed in crashes involving an ambulance, 63 percent were the occupant of another vehicle. Additional studies have shown there is no significant amount of time saved or impact on clinical outcomes while using lights and sirens for response.
The goal of prehospital care, no matter what the diagnosis, is still centered on arriving to the patient quickly, providing necessary treatment, and rapidly transporting the patient to an emergency care facility. However, it’s important for us to weigh the benefits of lights and siren response with the potential risks to everyone involved and make adjustments as needed.
In the case of any emergency, community members should still call 9 -1 -1 as soon as possible. If drivers see an ambulance without any emergency lights or sirens they should treat it like any other vehicle on the road. If an emergency vehicle approaches with lights and sirens drivers should pull off to the right side of the road if safe to do so.