Driving a dangerous part of emergency responders’ jobs

When seconds matter, emergency vehicles need to get to the scene as soon as possible, but accidents can happen.

You may remember this video of a car colliding with a firetruck at the intersection of Hinkleville road and James Sanders Boulevard. Paducah police say the truck had the red light but was heading to a medical emergency. It stopped until the driver thought the way was clear, but the driver of an oncoming car didn’t see the truck as it made its way through, and the two collided. 

Sometimes the traffic rules can get complicated, especially with right-of-ways and emergency vehicles.

This is what you should do:

     In a four lane, if you see lights or hear sirens, just stop.

     There are generally emergency lanes they can take around you.

     But on smaller roads: try to pull over to the right.

     But never slam on your brakes.

First responders say driving is one of the most dangerous parts of their jobs.

Kristy Gage says she tries her hardest to avoid that part of town, but sometimes she says the traffic is unavoidable. She says: “Out of every spot in Paducah, this is the spot I can’t stand.”

Navigating the traffic can also be tough when responding to an emergency. Mercy Regional EMS Executive Director Jeremy Jeffrey says driving is the most nerve-wracking part of his job and for his staff.

He says: “I worry more about my personnel responding to the call then taking care of the people, because I know they know how to take care of the people.”

Jeffrey says distracted driving causes the most problems for his staff and drivers sharing the road. He says: “When they do the unexpected, that’s when it gets dangerous.”

When you’re on the road and you see the lights and sirens on, they expect you to pull over. But do not slam on the brakes.

Jeffrey says they’re bound to traffic laws like anyone else, but there are always variables they can’t account for.

Many of you had questions about what the firetruck did yesterday. Paducah fire chief Steve Kyle sent us this statement. It reads in part:

It slowed down as necessary for the safety of traffic allowing the fire truck to proceed with due regard through the intersection.  We regret this unfortunate incident occurred as we hold the safety of all citizens as our highest priority.

To read the rest of his statement, click here

According to state statute, the fire truck followed the law. Emergency vehicles responding to an emergency with lights and sirens going have to slow down, not stop when approaching a red light or stop sign into an intersection.

The only vehicles that get the right of way all the time: the U.S. Postal Service.

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