TWIN FALLS, Idaho — When sirens sound and lights flash, moving over for first responders could be lifesaving. In Twin Falls, some drivers aren’t making way for vehicles responding to emergencies.
“Seconds matter in a lot of these emergencies that we respond to, whether it be a CPR, or an infant, or any other critical emergency, seconds matter and any time we can keep the fire trucks moving in the right direction versus slowing down and having to gain their momentum again, it just helps us get there much quicker and safer,” said Battalion Chief Mitchell Brooks with the Twin Falls Fire Department.
The main reason drivers fail to yield for deputies responding to calls, is because they are distracted, according to Sgt. Ken Mencl with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Department.
"Our deputies, on a regular occurrence when they’re dispatched to a call that requires them to run with their emergency lights and siren, will find that people aren’t paying attention and often times fail to yield when they are responding to a call with those emergency lights flashing. I would say that that number is probably almost every call they respond to,” said Sgt. Mencl.
He says it’s important to be aware of your surroundings while driving by keeping music from blaring, staying off of your devices and checking side and rearview mirrors frequently.
“We use our emergency vehicle lights and sirens to alert pedestrians and vehicle operators that we are asking for the right of way to get through to get to the emergency as fast as we can,” said Chief Brooks.
The law says cars should yield to the right of the road and clear the intersection to allow first responders with their lights and or sirens on, to pass. Not doing so could result in a $90 infraction.
“Give the emergency vehicles the space they need to operate by being alert and attentive to your driving by moving over to the right. If you’re stopped at an intersection and you’re stopped at a light and you can’t move, just stay stopped, we’ll navigate around you,” said Sgt. Mencl.
The true cost that comes with not giving first responders the right of way, is high.
“We respond to almost anything that dispatch sends out where fire and paramedics would respond as well, and those seconds can make a difference when somebody is struggling with a heart attack, or for whatever reason CPR is needed on scene. A lot of times our deputies will be the first ones on the scene and those seconds can mean the difference between life and death,” said Sgt. Mencl.