Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Delayed EMS Zone

Had to make an hour drive this morning, in the bright sunshine.  On a two lane state highway, a little curvy in spots, a little rolling in spots, but mostly straight and flat.

On one of those straightaways, there was an oncoming ambulance, lights and sirens.

So what did I do?
I pulled over to the right and stopped.

What did the car behind me do?
Pulled over to the right and stopped behind me.

What did the car behind him do?

Pulled out around us both, into the other lane and passed us, to speed merrily on his way.  I guess someone else's emergency was too much of a bother to him.


Fortunately, the ambulance didn't hit him.

I held my breath and braced for it.
Then I let out a string of colorful language in his general direction.

The main thing on my mind, besides being really, really glad that the ambulance hadn't hit him, was that this person clearly doesn't know anything about where he's driving.

In any city, there are places most people don't go.  "Dangerous" parts of town.  In an unfamiliar city, it's best to talk to some locals to find out where those places are before you find yourself in one by accident.  In your OWN town, you know where they are, and your life probably doesn't take you there much unless you have a good reason to go.

People are generally aware of this. It isn't news.

But there are other things about any town that most people don't know, that people in emergency services are well aware of.

Like this morning.
That section of highway is about as far from any EMS as you can get around here.  It was just outside our district, meaning just into the next county.  The "far end" for them, just as this side of the line is the "far end" for us. And that ambulance we saw? Probably the only one they have on duty.  To get another ambulance would take extra time, as they call people in.  Might be a lot of extra time.  Or they might need to call an ambulance mutual aid from somewhere else, taking even longer. And once the ambulance gets there?  The nearest hospital is 40 minutes away, at least.  The nearest trauma center, a little further.

Not a good place to take extra risks with your driving.

There are spots like that all around the area that I know about. Places I'm always just a little bit more careful.  

I wish they could be marked.  Signs that say "Entering Delayed EMS Zone" or something.

I also wish there could be some sort of real time information available that would tell people "Your area has no available Emergency Services at this time. Be careful out there."  "Now is not the time to leave Grandma home alone, or to decide to clear the snow off your roof when you haven't done any physical labor in years."  

We could have some sort of color coded system.  "Code Red" meaning don't drive, don't burn garbage, don't leave your stove on, and if your chest hurts, call sooner rather than later.  There isn't anyone coming for a long time.  If you're just looking for a ride to detox, or if you've had a toothache for three days, hold that thought.

Of course, it wouldn't hurt to have people not drive like idiots anyway, all the time, everywhere.  We don't need a "zone" for that.
Just how difficult a concept is it to pull over and stop for an ambulance, people? Seriously.

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