If you are a volunteer you probably respond to your station or even the incident in your own vehicle, also known as a privately owned vehicle (POV). For all responders and for all types of incidents, safety starts at the time of call. These are my Everyday EMS tips for reaching the incident safely when respond in a POV.
1. Put on your seatbelt before starting the car. This should be a habit that you do without thinking every time you get in a vehicle.
2. Look up the call address in your map book or program into your GPS before leaving the driveway. I can’t drive and look at the map book. You shouldn’t, either.
3. Once you know the location think about the route you will take to get there before leaving your driveway.
4. As needed, call your unit in service before leaving.
5. It is normal to be excited when responding to emergency. Recognize that your fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system has been activated. Don’t let this transfer into aggressive or reckless driving.
6. Follow your department policies for POV use of red lights and sirens. Personally, I don’t think red lights and sirens have any application to POVs other than marking the location of the incident. Use the comments to tell me reasons POVs should be allowed to have red lights and sirens.
7. Turn off your car stereo, ignore your cell phone, and don’t attempt to text or make calls. Instead do these three things. Focus on driving. Focus on driving. Focus on driving.
How do you feel about red lights and sirens on privately owned vehicles?