In the comments on my last Ask MC post, Canoehead posed the following concern:
I recently assisted in transporting a baby to a city hospital after he was brought to our ER after an arrest. It was a roll of the dice as to whether he’d make it there, we had 4 adults in the back keeping eyes on him and praying. Stressful, to say the least. Before we left the family was told NOT to try to keep up with the ambulance, and the last thing anyone needed was a car wreck on the way. Every family has been told this, on every transport I’ve been on, and to date none have listened. This morning we were trying to part traffic in the city during rush hour, and the family car was on our butts all the way. About 1 foot off the bumper, in spite of getting floodlighted from the ambulance and the doc making “Get away!!” gestures from the back window.
Do you have any suggestions…our hospital frowns on firing warning shots out the back window. What could be more convincing, and within the law as far as instructions before the transport, and what are officers able to do to help. Obviously we went through several towns fairly fast, and a police chase after a speeding ambulance is darned disruptive and dangerous, so I was at a loss at the time.
My first response is why was the baby arrested? *Rimshot* Don’t forget to tip your waitress.
Seriously, though, I am assuming someone in care of a baby was hooked and the baby needed some medical attention. The easy answer would be to further assume there were some cops there as well and they could properly dissuade/distract family from unsafely following the ambulance to St. Farthest.
That seems too easy, though, given canoehead’s apparent repeated experiences. Taking off my motor helmet and putting on my medic hat (you guys wear hats, right?), I think I’d have a firm, yet brief, conversation with the family about the care their child needs and how following unsafely may distract from that care. I’d ask them if they wanted the best care their child needs or if they’d prefer sub par care in order to arrive at St. Farthest immediately behind the ambulance.
In my experience, even during the most traumatic of events, there is at least one cool head in the suffering family. I don’t know why and maybe it’s just good luck on my part.
Short of that, there really isn’t anything you can do to control the actions of others. I can tell you the odds of an officer stopping an ambulance rolling code is slim to none, erring on the strong side of none. Now, the vehicle tailgating the ambulance? Those odds are higher, but the tailgater would have to be pretty egregious in their lousy driving and putting others at severe risk.
The ambulances in these parts tend not to break a bevy of land speed records getting from point A to point B. People don’t truly understand the meaning of Code 3 operation. Code 3 is simply activating the lights and sirens. It doesn’t mean drive like a bat out of Hell and disregard everyone’s safety. One of the great things about an ambulance is the medic in the back. While you are headed to the hospital, you are receiving the appropriate medical care you need. There is less need to drive with imprudence…at least theoretically.
If you can think of a way to explain all of that to the frightened family in the most succinct of ways, that’d be the way I’d go.