An ambulance with the BC Emergency Health Services heads thru the village area of Gabriola on March 21, 2022 with lights and sirens on. Sounder photo

Sounder News

Emergency response agencies serving Gabriola Island are asking the public to remember to pull over and stop when being approached by emergency vehicles running with lights and sirens on.

The reminder comes after responders noted on several calls over the winter where vehicles did not stop, and in some cases did not slow down or pull over, while emergency vehicles were passing.

Staff with BC Emergency Health Services – responsible for the operation of the BC Ambulance Service – said in a statement that it’s always a concern for paramedics if someone fails to pull over when they are attending an urgent call – given that ambulances are on the road 24/7, this kind of failure is seen all too frequently.

“BCEHS paramedics use lights and sirens in urgent cases only. It is troubling for paramedics who are rushing to save lives, when they use lights and sirens and encounter drivers who simply don’t clear the road for them. If you see lights and sirens, you know paramedics are on their way to an urgent – possibly life-threatening case, where minutes might affect the patient’s outcome.

“We can’t emphasize enough that failing to move over for an ambulance on an urgent call is dangerous to drivers, dangerous for our crews and hinders the fastest possible medical response for the patient. When you see lights and sirens, it’s important to move to the side of the road, and come to a safe stop as soon as possible.”

The requirement is for all vehicles utilizing the road (whether motor vehicle or bicycle) to pull over and stop.

Fire Chief Will Sprogis said the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department, “would like to see all vehicles move over and stop on the side of the road when the fire trucks are responding code 3 (lights and sirens). The fire trucks are fully loaded and Gabriola roads are sloped in the middle. They are also narrow in some sections of road with soft shoulders that can break away with the weight of our heavy apparatus. Please pull over to help aid in our response to someone in need.”

Cpl. Jordan Mullen, Detachment Commander for the Gabriola RCMP said that all drivers should remember they must yield to any first responder vehicle with its emergency lights and siren activated.

“On our narrow two lane roads, that means pulling over as soon as possible to the right side of the road, stopping and staying there until the vehicle has safely passed. Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle is an offence under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act, and carries a $109 fine and 3 penalty points on a driver’s licence.”

Mullen added that there is also, “a ‘Slow Down and Move Over’ law, requiring drivers to slow to 40 km/h (or less) when passing any stopped vehicle with its flashing red, blue or amber lights activated. Roadway maintenance, tow trucks and emergency vehicles fall into this category.”

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