All Tri-Community South EMS EMTs and Paramedics have updated their training in Emergency Vehicle Operations.
Every TCS field provider qualifies to operate an emergency vehicle by the completion of a state-recognized Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC). Emergency vehicle operation is the one job skill that is used on every emergency call. It is also one of the most unpredictable challenges of an EMS provider's job and requires as much attention and skill as any other part of patient care. Tri-Community South provides its operators with continuing education just as it does with all critical patient care skills.
The most recent update, "Coaching the Emergency Vehicle Operator" (CEVO) is produced by Coaching Systems, Inc. in conjunction with the National Safety Council, and is recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for continuing education credit toward maintaining Pennsylvania EMS provider certification. Every EMT and Paramedic must complete a minimum number of credit-hours per year to maintain certification to be able to perform as an EMS provider in Pennsylvania. All TCS vehicle operators completed the CEVO course in March.
The CEVO course concentrates on reinforcing the observation and reaction skills of the Emergency Vehicle Operator. It stresses the need for EVOs to be aware of every potential hazard, to think ahead, and to be prepared for immediate collision-preventing action at all times. It also instructs the EVO to maintain the mindset of a professional driver, since that is what every Emergency Vehicle Operator must be. The course includes video training in multiple driving scenarios that challenge the EVO to observe and react immediately and appropriately. These include sections on intersections, terrain obstructions, pedestrians, wildlife and inattentive motorists. It also includes sections on common maneuvers like backing into parking spaces, vehicle placement at emergency scenes and entering traffic from driveways. The course also includes segments on the effects of weather on emergency vehicle operations.
While every TCS provider is a trained, professional vehicle operator, highway safety around emergency vehicles is every driver's responsibility. The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code specifies what a driver must do when an emergency vehicle, responding with lights and sirens, approaches. Regardless of direction of travel, other drivers must pull to the RIGHT and STOP until the emergency vehicle passes. (PA Vehicle Code, Section 3325.) When passing an emergency scene, where an emergency vehicle is stopped and displaying warning lights or other traffic control devices, drivers must pass in a non-adjacent lane if possible, or slow down to a careful and prudent speed while passing the scene. (PA Vehicle Code, Section 3327.) Some considerations are not addressed in the vehicle code. When pulling over to allow an emergency vehicle to pass, where the emergency vehicle will have to move fully or partially into an oncoming traffic lane, drivers should pull over in a place where the driver of the emergency vehicle can see traffic approaching in the oncoming lane. When two drivers travelling in opposite directions stop to allow an emergency vehicle to pass, they should not stop directly across from one another. This creates an unsafe condition that allows the EVO no safe option in the event another oncoming vehicle fails to stop.
For more information on safety around emergency vehicles, or for any other questions on Emergency Medical Services, call Tri-Community South at 412-831-3710, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.