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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Arrive safely: Speeding is not worth the risk

With all of the controversy surrounding rapid response, it seems less of a benefit to drive recklessly in the name of patient care

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: Video out of Russia shows a fire truck presumably speeding to a call with its sirens blaring when it clips a car and topples over.

Years ago, my partner and I were responding to a call in San Francisco. As the driver, I took the usual route to enter that particular neighborhood.

One intersection was a four-way stop, one that was easy to move through without really stopping. As we entered the intersection, I had a sudden sense that there was something coming right at us from the driver's side. I flinched, gunned the motor and turned slightly to the right.

Simultaneously, I heard the very loud blast. of the fire engine's airhorn in my ear as it, too, was entering the intersection without stopping. I can't imagine there was much more than a inch of space between the two vehicles at that moment in time. 

It turns out that we were both responding to the same call, and you can pretty much guess there were a bunch of white-faced responders staring at each other when we arrived.

We take so many things for granted, and safety is one of them. This video reminds me just how easy it is to be careless for a brief moment and have your life changed in that instant.

I will admit that since that day, I've been a slower, more cautious driver and the excitement of driving lights and siren is, well, not as exciting as it once was.

With all of the controversy surrounding rapid response, it seems less of a benefit to drive recklessly in the name of patient care.

Arrive safely, fellow EMS colleague. It's not worth the risk.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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