Its a beautiful late fall day, temperature a ridiculously beautiful 60 degrees, I've got the radio on, window down and I'm driving on West Shore Road, a two lane quiet little roadway that runs from east to west through Warwick, RI. Theres barely any traffic on this stretch of roadway and I'm enjoying the ride.
Suddenly, my heart is in my underwear and there's an ambulance two feet from my rear bumper, siren blaring in my window, lights flashing and a driver gesticulating and carrying on as if I'm the biggest moron to ever sit behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
So, I pulled to the right, and he flew past me, leaving a wake of sand and leaves behind. I watched him speed into the distance, knowing that his emergency is far more important than my well being or safety. A few years ago I might have followed him, and found out exactly what the rush was, and after finding out the emergent nature of his response, and most likely not, proceeded to tear him a new one.
But I've learned to enjoy the ride.
As annoying as I find the sirens to be, turning them off and then using them only at intersections or when confronted by a person who refuses to yield the right of way is a recipe for disaster. Keeping the things on during the entire response is the best way to avoid collisions. Also, keeping the standard wail going is more effective than continuously changing from that the Hi-Lo and the air horn. A long, continuous warning works best.
People outside of our little capsule, AKA the ambulance hear us long before they see us, but only if the sirens are activated. Consider your private driving, and how you react to sirens in the distance. Immediately you look around you, and check your rear view mirrors, and wait to see where the emergency vehicle is coming from.
So turn them on, and keep them on, and stay safe. And whatever you do, don't sneak up on me!