Bay of Plenty motorists are putting lives at risk by failing
to give way to emergency-service vehicles, firefighters say.
The claim comes after motorists failed to give way to a fire
truck on its way to a heart-attack callout yesterday morning.
Greerton Fire Service station officer Richard Moreland said
two vehicles kept going through the busy roundabout despite
the lights flashing on the fire truck.
The fire truck driver had to brake hard to avoid a potential
collision, he said.
"This is not an isolated incident. It would be fair to say in
probably 50 per cent of our callouts we get motorists not
pulling over or stopping to let us pass.
"When we're trying to focus on the incident and get there as
fast as we can safely, it makes the job a lot more stressful
and unpredictable. In the event of a fire or medical
emergency, a delay of even a couple of minutes makes a huge
difference to the outcome."
Mr Moreland said crews were delayed about 50 per cent of the
time when they were on their way to callouts -- delays which
could mean life or death for the people involved.
The Fire Service was being called to more medical emergencies
and the issue of motorists not giving way also arose when the
Greerton fire trucks were leaving the Maleme St station.
Mr Moreland said a two-minute delay could be the difference
between a person succumbing to smoke inhalation in a fire or
St John Western Bay of Plenty territory manager Ross Clarke
said most motorists did the right thing but some were
unpredictable once they realised an ambulance was trying to
pass them, and did "all manner of strange things".
That included some drivers stopping in the right lane and
expecting the ambulance to go around them, he said.
Mount Maunganui Fire Service station officer Neil Brown said
the issue was a major concern.
"It's a reoccurring problem in at least one in two to three
callouts. I don't know whether it's ignorance and people
really don't know what to do, but some people are being a
little bit selfish when they don't pull over and leave a
sufficient gap for us to get through.".
Mr Brown said it was also common to see people waiting to
enter the nearby intersection queuing up in front of the fire
station during peak heavy congestion, he said.
Tauranga Fire Senior Station Officer Kevin Cowper said if
motorists failed to give way to emergency services it was
often because they were oblivious to what was behind them.
Mr Cowper said some drivers were unpredictable.
"For those who deliberately don't pull over or try to beat
the fire truck they should think about the fact that we might
be on our way to an emergency involving their property or
someone they know.
"In the event of a building fire once the fire takes hold it
grows exponentially ... even a delay of a couple of minutes
makes a huge difference," he said.
Head of Western Bay road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion
said drivers should think about how they would like other
motorists to respond if the emergency involved their family
- By Sandra Conchie of the Bay of Plenty Times