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Oklahoma City emergency responders seek public's help to improve response times

Oklahoma City emergency responders are asking that the public “See the Lights — Pull to the Right!” Distracted driving and a high volume of emergency response calls have prompted a new campaign that asks drivers to pay attention, and pull over to help improve response times.
by Juliana Keeping Published: August 29, 2013

Emergency responders are renewing the call for drivers to pull over when emergency vehicles with lights flashing approach.

The “See the Lights — Pull to the Right!” campaign comes at a time when distracted driving is at an all-time high.

“Medics often say they will pass the car, look down and see the motorist on cellphone or putting on makeup or listening to music. They're not even aware that the ambulance or police car is there,” said Lara O'Leary, spokeswoman for Emergency Medical Service Authority.

“We're having a bit of trouble trying to get to emergencies to help people.”

EMSA medics respond to about 300 calls per day, Oklahoma City Fire Department to 221 calls per day, and Oklahoma City police to about 1,014 calls per day, authorities say.

“We need to notify the public we need their assistance and help again,” fire Deputy Chief Marc Woodard said. “They can enhance our response times when we're responding to these emergencies.”

A few basics to keep in mind are:

• Don't stop or pull over to the left into the median.

• Yield to emergency vehicles, squad cars, fire engines and ambulances when they are flashing lights or sounding a siren.

• Pull to the right edge of the roadway, clear of intersections. Stop until the emergency vehicle has passed.

• On the interstate, while traveling in the left lane, pull to the right lanes when it is safe.

• Per Oklahoma law, change lanes or lower speed significantly when passing stopped emergency vehicles.

• In heavily congested traffic, pull to the right as much as possible.

by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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