Emergency vehicles have right-of-way

March 11, 2011 • Local News

Any emergency personnel member can attest to it. The response time in being called to a fire, medical crisis or any call for help is critical. When minutes, and sometimes even seconds, could mean the matter [auth] of life and death, or residents being saved from a burning building, emergency personnel need to arrive on the scene quickly — and safely.

That’s why the Roswell Fire Department has recently completed installing “Keep Right” safety decals on its vehicles and is reminding motorists to pull their vehicles to the right side of the road when strobes of an emergency vehicle can be seen in their rearview mirrors.

“There’s lots of times when vehicles stop right in front of us and that impedes our response to a call,” said RFD’s Chief James Salas. The department, along with fire stations in Hobbs, Lovington, Artesia and Carlsbad is taking part in the America Keep Right traffic safety campaign.

“This program is designed to educate motorists to pull to the right when an emergency vehicle pulls up behind them, when they’re running with their red lights and sirens on,” Salas said. “It’s a safety issue. …. We’re asking the public to pull to the right so that the fire trucks can have the right-of-way to get to the emergency responses.”

Salas explained there’s been a rash of recent instances where motorists are completely stopping their vehicles in the path of fire trucks or pulling off to the left side of the road. “Motorists here, lately, are just stopping right in front of us,” he said.

“Every second counts. If we’re dealing with a structure fire, every two minutes (that passes) that fire doubles in size,” Salas said. “If we’re delayed (and) we’re sitting in the middle of the road because a car won’t move … (then) that fire grows.”

The new “Keep Right” decals are located on the top of the RFD vehicles’ windshields. Salas said it’s important not to panic if you find yourself in front of an emergency vehicle that has its lights and sirens on — just keep right.

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