Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An Unnerving Incident

There is no question that my cochlear implants have caused me to be more aware of the sounds around me, especially sounds that need to be paid attention to. You will recall from this post that I could not always hear sirens unless I saw their flashing lights first. Yesterday when I left work, I had the sunroof open on my car to let the heat out because it was so hot. Normally, I keep my car closed up with the air conditioner running to cool off in this July heat. As I approached an intersection, I heard a siren but had no warning, no lights or anything. There was an ambulance coming right at me and it startled me. Luckily, I was able to move over so it could pass. I was confused about why I did not see it coming but soon realized that it did not have the warning lights activated. But, thankfully, I clearly heard the siren. If I had not heard it first with my cochlear implants, the ambulance would have had another emergency with my vehicle!

This incident bothered me so much that I felt like someone needed to know about it. What if I didn't have my cochlear implants? What if it was another deaf or hard of hearing person driving down the road? Even normal hearing people don't always hear sirens when they have their cars closed up, play loud music, or are busy doing something else besides driving like talking on their cell phones. But flashing lights, even off in a distance, would alert someone and catch their eye before they actually hear the sound of a siren approaching. So, I went to the ambulance company's website this morning and wrote them a letter. And got a response in a few hours. I will leave names out but here is an excerpt:

Dear Ms. P.,

Thank you for your letter. First off, I would like to apologize for the incident regarding the ambulance siren. On this particular incident, the ambulance crew was responding on an emergency call. When the crew left the station, they failed engage all of their emergency warning devices. The siren obviously was on, however, the lights did not "engage". The crew did not do this on purpose. In their "rush" to get to the scene of the emergency, they failed to fully engage all their warning equipment.

This is embarrassing to us as an operation and quite frankly, I wish I could tell you that " a fuse blown" or some other malfunction had occurred. Unfortunately, however, we just plain failed to completely do our job. Again, I apologize for the incident occurring and I will definitely speak with the crew involved and review with them the procedure for emergency response. Thank you for taking the time out to notify us so we could address and correct the issue. If I can be of any further service, please contact me at (999) 999-9999.

EMS Operations Manager

As an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing, I felt that this needed to be addressed. And was pleased that someone cared enough to respond and do something about it.


Jennifer said...

Laurie, I STILL can't hear sirens!! I would have been in MAJOR trouble!! I'm so glad you went the extra mile and contacted the ambulance service about that. They needed to be aware!! That's just scary! I'm glad you stayed safe, though :) Love you!! :)

Tallahassee Lassie said...

Whew! I can hear sirens as long as they are close enough to me. I don't think I would have heard it from a great distance. Those lights would have gotten my attention though!
I LOVE it when people own up to their mistakes. What a nice thing you did by emailing them. I hope it doesn't happen again.I would have done the same thing.

Yana said...

Great job, Laurie! Now I can hear sirens (but I never know where they are, I just look for them when I hear them), but before I could not and it was scary.

Lazy Daisy said...

Wow, good for you for the follow through. So glad you were able to hear the sirens and able to avoid a collision with the ambulance. God is good all the time.

I was also impressed that you got a nice response from the EMS.

Any friend of Jennifer has got to be good people! I adore the girl!

Sam said...

An ambulance with a siren but no lights???? That sucks! We need more advocates like you! And you want to know whats funny? We have a local law...all sirens must be at least 100 db. Talking about LOUD loud!

As for me, I can hear sirens but I need to look around to find them. For the most part, it is looking in one direction or the other to find them.

Laurie said...


If you are able to go bilateral next year, you'll be able to tell which directions sirens are coming from.

This incident was too serious of an issue to ignore and I felt the need to say something. Thanks for your support!

Candice said...

Well, that was a very nice response. Of course, I certainly see the "emergency" viewpoint and can understand in the urgency of it all that something got missed (I mean-I guess it WOULD be easy for them to miss the lights since they don't necessarily see them-I never thought about that)....but, hey, at least they were honest about it and fairly quick to respond. Way to go, Laurie!