Inattentive drivers slow down ambulance response time

Police say it's against the law not to pull over

POSTED: 06:25 PM MDT May 16, 2013 
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Paramedics aim for a 4 minute response time when going to a call, and they expect drivers to pull over and get out of the way.

Recently, emergency responders in Idaho Falls have faced some traffic problems.

When drivers don't get out of the way, they can cause a real problem and it's against the law not to.

Paramedics said it slows down the response time and just weeks ago while en route to the hospital with a patient, a driver that wasn't paying attention actually crashed into the ambulance.

"I had a car in the right lane pass me with my lights on," said Trevor Morgan, a firefighter.

The big yellow trucks and flashing lights are hard to miss but too often, they're ignored in a business where every second matters.

"My last shift, we had 4 calls during the day but yesterday they had 9 calls," said Mike Evans, a firefighter and paramedic. "I've had as many as 18 calls during the day."

People count on a quick response from paramedics and firefighters but sometimes, drivers make it hard.

"Traffic, sometimes line of route like with the D Street underpass being closed, different times of day matter," said Evans.

What you're supposed to do is pull over to the right hand side of the road and avoid stopping in the center turn lane.

"They'll see us when we're right behind them and they'll kind of panic a little bit and not know what to do," said Morgan.

Drivers can get a ticket for not stopping for an emergency response vehicle, or for following too closely behind them.

"There are times where we have to weave through cars, go in the wrong lane to get around cars, go the wrong way on one way streets and that kind of stuff," said Morgan.

Last year, paramedics in Idaho Falls responded to more than 7,000 calls.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said around 200 people are killed each year in the U.S. in accidents involving emergency response vehicles.