Emergency Medical Services Week Highlights Risk of Missouri Car Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicles

The 38th annual Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week serves as an important reminder about what EMS providers, police and other emergency responders, do for us on a daily basis. National EMS Week features hundreds of activities and events across the country. Some events included safety demonstrations, EMS essay and poster contests, CPR classes and at least one auto extrication demonstration, according to The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACAP). The theme for this year's recognition month is "Everyday Heroes."
"As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, these 'everyday heroes' deserve special recognition for their willingness to face danger in order to help people in trouble," said ACEP's president, Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP. "All emergency physicians salute the brave men and women who sometimes put themselves in harm's way in order to assist the sick and the injured. Their selflessness sets an example for all of us."

Our Southeast Missouri car accident attorneys understand that emergency responders are on-duty 24-hours a day and help us in our greatest time of need, whether it be help with flood rescue efforts after the recent and devastating tornado or a car accident in Perryville or elsewhere in Missouri. While we take the time to recognize their efforts, it is important to remember that these emergency responder vehicles are involved in accidents themselves more than we may realize.

"Statistics support the need for traffic laws dealing with emergency vehicles," according to Terri Durdaller, spokesperson for the department of public safety. "In 2004, there were three fatal accidents, three fatalities and 221 total injuries in highway incidents involving emergency vehicles. Just this year, 16 Highway Patrol cars have been hit on the shoulder while pulling a motorist over for a violation."

In an effort to help out our emergency responders, Missouri has enacted a move over law that requires drivers to move over and slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle with flashing lights.

"Proceed with due caution and reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions, if changing lanes would be unsafe or impossible," reads Missouri's Move Over Law.

The 19th annual National EMS Memorial Service is scheduled to be held on June 25th in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This event is designated to honor responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty. So far this year, more than 40 honorees from 18 different states will be added to the 538 honored in past years.

In an effort to help preserve the safety of our emergency responders, drivers are asked to follow these tips to react quickly and clearly when you witness an emergency responder approaching:

-Pull your vehicle as far to the right as you can and then stop until the safety vehicle safely passes.

-If there is no safe way for you to pull over and stop, you should slow your vehicle down to at least 20 mph under the posted speed limit, or down to 5 mph if the speed limit is already 20 mph or less. Then let the emergency vehicle go around you.

-When you approach an emergency vehicle on the side of the road with their lights activated, you are asked to remain focused on the road. No rubber-necking. Slow down, stay focused and watch for any emergency personnel that may be on foot in the area. Be sure to keep your distance until you've safely cleared the scene.

While motorists must do their part, emergency personnel are not without responsibility. There is a growing body of evidence that contends drivers of emergency vehicles are some of the most distracted drivers on the road -- radios, telephones and onboard computers are used at a high rate of speed in emergency situations. Police chases are another situation in which motorists may be at high risk of an accident. Anytime you are involved in an accident with an emergency vehicle, an attorney should be called in to protect your rights.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident with an emergency responder in Dexter, New Madrid Perryville or elsewhere in Southeast Missouri, contact the Perryville Personal Injury Lawyers at Aaron Sachs & Associates PC, for a free initial consultation. Call (573) 334-7959. Attorney meetings by appointment only.

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