NewsProject: Drive Safer


Help Milwaukee ambulance crews save lives with these simple tips

Due to contract changes with the City of Milwaukee, Bell Ambulance runs have doubled from 2021 to 2022.
Posted at 5:32 AM, Jan 18, 2023

MILWAUKEE — Every day is different for Russell Johnston at Bell Ambulance, but one thing that is always constant is the need to get to an emergency quickly.

"Even though a call comes in a certain way, we don’t really know what we’re dealing with until we actually get there," said Johnston.

Johnston said due to contract changes with the City of Milwaukee, their runs have doubled from 2021 to 2022. He said for the most part, when out on the roads, people do try to move over but sometimes that's not always the case.

"You’ll see people just stop in the middle of the intersection instead of clearing the intersection. We’ll have people that I’ll just try to follow us and blow through red lights as well," said Johnston.

Watch Adriana's Instagram Reel report below:

Help Milwaukee ambulance crews save lives with these simple tips

Over at the Milwaukee Fire Department, Assistance Chief De Wayne Smoots said their runs have also increased, about 15-20% over the year.

"Having to close down firehouses has increased the runs for everyone else," said Smoots.

To help make their job a little less stressful when out on the roads, Chief Smoots said it's important for drivers to move over to the right when they see and hear those lights and sirens.

"It’s extremely important because our job is about timing and we want to get to wherever we’re going to as quickly and safely as we can," said Chief Smoots.

Not moving over for an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens on can cost you money and points on your license. But Chief Smoots said it goes beyond that.

"The reality of it is, it’s just for our decent humanity," said Chief Smoots.

Chief Smoots said never just stop in the middle of the road, clear the intersections and move over as right as possible. He said it's always important for drivers to have a little compassion and empathy for the situation when out on the roadway.

"Treat it like it’s an emergency at your house or one of your family members and you would want us to get there to help them," said Chief Smoots.

"See the light, move right" is the saying. Read the law below:

346.19 What to do on approach of emergency vehicle.

(1) Upon the approach of any authorized emergency vehicle giving audible signal by siren the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive such vehicle to a position as near as possible and parallel to the right curb or the right-hand edge of the shoulder of the roadway, clear of any intersection and, unless otherwise directed by a traffic officer, shall stop and remain standing in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

The violation of this offense is $250.00 and is a 4 point violation for the driver. The owner of the vehicle may also be cited for the violation for the same fine amount, but a 0 point violation. Sometimes on traffic stops, especially on interstate highways, operators of vehicles are startled by the emergency lights and sirens and pull over into the left emergency lane and stop. This is dangerous for the motorist and the traffic officer as other motorists expect traffic stops on the right.

On interstates, other motorists may believe the stop is on the other side of the concrete Jersey barrier and may not have enough time to pull over to the right to allow a safe lane for the officer to conduct the stop. A driver may be cited, if they pull over and stop on the left, rather than right side of the road during a traffic stop, under this statute.

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