Inside EMS Podcast: Should EMS scale back lights and sirens?

Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson consider criteria for activating lights and sirens, and ponder whether the new show “Nightwatch” is an accurate depiction of EMS


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In this week’s Inside EMS Podcast, hosts Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson discuss whether lights and sirens are necessary for emergency transports.

They look at a Fla. EMS provider who had lights and sirens activated, and who is likely at fault in a five-vehicle collision that injured seven people.

They also discuss a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study that looks at training for EMTs driving ambulances.

“Do we need more education? I can go ahead and answer that right now,” Grayson said. “Yes. And we need to start deemphasizing the lights and sirens aspect of emergency medical services.”

When making the decision, Cebollero said if he can do in the back of an ambulance the same thing that hospital staff can do in the ER, there’s no reason to use lights and sirens.

“What are we really saving?” he asked. “Ninety seconds?”

Grayson agreed, saying his threshold for lights and sirens depends on care being time sensitive, the patient being unstable, and the treatment to stabilize being something that he can’t provide.

“It’s a rare patient indeed that meets all three of those criteria,” Grayson said.

They also consider whether the A&E Network show Nightwatch, which premiered on January 22 and follows EMS providers in New Orleans, will paint EMS in a positive light, or if it’s just another black eye waiting to happen for the profession. 

In the Clinical Issue, they discuss how best to take the ego out of the EMS career field. 

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