Do no harm begins with how we drive

Driving emergency vehicles fast adds very little to our response time

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel looks at how driving too fast adds little to our response time, yet carries heavy consequences.

What a tragic story. So many lives, including the involved firefighter and his family, changed forever.

And for what?

I've been in this business long enough, as both a volunteer (with a lights-and-siren equipped POV) and career emergency responder, that driving fast isn't a thrill. In fact, it's pretty scary so I usually drive the speed limit.

I certainly understand the importance of response time, and I'm also aware of research studies that suggest driving emergency vehicles faster than posted speed limits has only a marginal impact on reducing overall response times.

As the judge in this case correctly describes, and whatever is burning, the risk-benefit calculation is rarely on the side of drive faster.

Like so many things we do, I think the answer to my earlier question goes back to the mantra we were taught in day one of EMT class: "First, do no harm."

Drive safe.

(And by the way, have you given up texting while driving, yet?)

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

  1. Tags
  2. Vehicle Safety
  3. Volunteer

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