Emergency services call for care and support on roads

EMERGENCY vehicles encounter drivers who do not know the correct procedure to let them pass during the majority of call-outs, the station commander of the Jersey Fire and Rescue Service has said.

Mark Bailey-Walker, station commander in fire safety prevention
Mark Bailey-Walker, station commander in fire safety prevention

Mark Bailey-Walker is advising Islanders on how to respond safely and correctly when they see an emergency vehicle attempting to travel through traffic on the way to an incident.

‘We appreciate that when there is an emergency vehicle responding to an emergency, it can be a bit of a panic for some people,’ he said.

‘Consider the route of the emergency vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while obeying all traffic signs.’

He added that there had also been occasions when Islanders had stopped on the side of the road opposite another car, restricting the space available for the emergency vehicle to pass through.

‘Where possible, avoid stopping opposite another car,’ he said.

He added: ‘Other things we have encountered [include] cars tucking in behind us and following us. If people are found doing that I believe they can find themselves in a spot of bother with the police. We obviously don’t want vehicles tailing us through traffic.’

Some drivers, he explained, remained ‘completely unaware’ that a response vehicle was behind them ‘no matter how loud the sirens or how many lights are going’ because they were wearing headphones.

He also stressed that Islanders should have ‘a bit of consideration’ about where they parked to ensure they were not blocking a fire hydrant or entrance.

‘Unlike the United States, the fire hydrants [in Jersey] are in the ground,’ he said.

‘These are usually marked and very clear so if anyone parks over them, they are restricting us from gaining access to valuable water supplies.’

When asked how many times such incidents had occurred in recent years, Mr Bailey-Walker said it was ‘not uncommon’.

‘Whether it’s crossing a lane on the avenue, not slowing down, not pulling over or stopping opposite other cars – I would say it was a high percentage.

‘If I was to include the other emergency services, it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened 75% of the time.’

He added that Islanders should ‘stay calm’ and take their time to observe the emergency vehicle’s path while also listening out for different sirens.

‘I would also take into account that there might be more than one vehicle. Certainly for the Fire and Rescue service, there may be a number of vehicles attending an incident,’ he said.

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