Close Call

So yesterday we nearly had an accident in the ambulance.  first off, let me tell you that I’m doing occasional video captures of our drives through town – it’s part of a little project I’m working on entitled something like “I can’t believe you did that when there was an ambulance with flashing blue lights and loud sirens bearing down on you”.

It may need a shorter title.

We were racing on blue lights, as I wasn’t driving I was using my digital camera in video mode to see if I could catch anyone doing something humourously dodgy.

Then, from in front of a bus…

 …well – see for yourself… 

The reason there isn’t any sound is that I don’t really need you all to hear me shouting, “FFFFFUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!!”

As my camera isn’t really a video camera, I’ve blown up one of the frames to let you see what I thought we were going to hit.

Having kittens

 

I have no idea how we didn’t hit him, or his dog – but I’m bloody grateful we didn’t.

UPDATE: Due to some of the comments, I thought I'd clarify.

We didn't hit a person because (although it looks fast on my crappy camera with limited frame rate) as we approached the zebra we were aware of the hazard and therefore going at a speed that allowed us to stop before our wheels even touched the zebra.

If we couldn't have stopped before crossing the crossing, then it would have been dangerous driving.

It's why I had to provide a freeze frame, because the child is spotted and the vehicle brought to a halt within such a short period of time.

The dog running was travelling faster than a human, and yet we still stopped in time.

Recall also that I am sitting in the passenger seat, and therefore have a poorer view than my driver. It's why I swore, and the driver didn't, because they saw the child and took the correct action.

So my point is – even though it looks like we are going fast, we drive so that we can stop given the hazards of the road – those hazards include kids on scooters (and their dogs) dashing out in front of us despite the lights and sirens.

It's my fault I didn't make this clear in the initial text of the article – I'd just like to blame 28 hours awake (which is why my crewmate was driving in the first place…)

39 thoughts on “Close Call”

  1. To be honest, if I was crossing and a bus had stopped for me, I would be rather upset if any vehicle came sailing past. The bus shouldn't have stopped there. It's entirely the fault of the twats that (illegally) put a bus stop in the controlled area of a zebra crossing

  2. i agree…….there is a good advert run by The Guardian newspaper, which show's a young skinhead running towards an old lady, who then grabs her…. mugging her is what they want you to think

    but it then shows the incident from another angle, what the young man is doing is moving the old lady out of the way, a bit rapidly admittedly, as above her head is a pallet load of building materials that has shifted and is about to fall on her. just goes to show that video/film can give a misleading grip on the situation.

    people really should look at the situation from all angles, or at least ask questions before going off on one.

  3. Video project sounds a great idea – looking forward to seeing more…One thing though – on the soundtrack, apart from not hearing your 'ffffuuuccckk', we can't hear a siren… just out of interest, is the cab so well insulated you can't hear it, or was it just turned off at the time?

  4. Yep, siren was on but the cabs are pretty well insulated (surprisingly so actually) and the built in microphone on the camera is pretty poor. So all you could hear on the original soundtrack was my swearing…Which is why I left the sound out completely.

  5. First comment – which IDIOT put a bus stop within the controlled area of a pedestrian crossing? Or put a zebra crossing near a bus stop, whichever way it happened?Second – there is no exemption to any emergency service to cross pedestrian crossings in the same way as traffic lights. Any emergency service driver should always be prepared to stop at a zebra crossing. I know the blues and twos were on, but on a bright sunny day, who can see the blue lights? What if the person was deaf?

    At least the driver was alert enough to slam on the anchors – perhaps your colleague was prepared for the unexpected?

  6. Probably he's read the highway code which says once he's on the crossing he has right of way. An example of laws overcoming common sense.

  7. why do some people still not realise that blue flashing lights and sirens mean “get out of the way, clear the road, emergency vehicle coming through!” and still saunter across roads, stop their cars in the way of junctions and so on?I mean, it's hardly a complicated signal. Light, colour, sound, all indicating that this vehicle is in a rush to save a life and as such has right of way over everything else.

    How much more obvious could it be?

  8. I wouldn't be too happy being driven by someone who fails to take basic observations (such as noticing that a bus has stopped at a zebra crossing) and who displays a cavalier attitude towards road traffic law (by overtaking at speed on the zig-zag lines approaching a zebra crossing when a huge bus is blocking the view of a large part of the crossing).If the ambulance had run and killed over the deaf bloke, who was in the process of using the zebra crossing, a charge of causing death by dangerous driving may well have been proven on the basis of the video evidence you present here.

    I sincerely hope you will bring this incident to the attention of your manager with the objective of forcing your colleague onto a driver improvement programme before he really does kill someone.

  9. if the person was so profoundly deaf that he couldn't even hear the sirens, then frankly he would be a lot more likely to look both ways before crossing a zebra crossing, and even if the flashing of the blue lights didn't register, a big yellow and green AMBULANCE would and would warrant the thought “how fast is that going? Shall I wait for it to go past?”

  10. What was the point of that comment? Really?It's not just some random builder's van they're driving there, it's an ambulance! I was under the impression that everyone knows that when an ambulance is coming on blues and twos, you get out of the way!

    If, as you seem to think, he is deaf, he could have waited for the bus to go past before he starts to cross?

    Tom isn't trying to humiliate his crewmate her or criticise his driving, he's just trying to make a statement about how dangerous it is driving at high speed… or something…

  11. The point behind it is thus…We didn't hit a person because (although it looks fast on my crappy camera with limited frame rate) as we approached the zebra we were going at a speed that allowed us to stop before our wheels even touched the zebra.

    If we couldn't have stopped before crossing the crossing, then it would have been dangerous driving.

    It's why I had to provide a freeze frame, because the child is spotted and the vehicle brought to a halt within such a short period of time.

    The dog running was travelling faster than a human, and yet we still stopped in time.

    So my point is – even though it looks like we are going fast, we drive so that we can stop given the hazards of the road – those hazards include kids on scooters (and their dogs) dashing out in front of us despite the lights and sirens.

  12. To be honest, if I was crossing and a bus had stopped for me, I would be rather upset if any vehicle came sailing past. It has happened to me before (with a car) and it's a very scary moment. Overtaking within the zigzags of a zebra is illegal. Plus, you are obliged to stop if someone has stepped onto it. The video showed you could clearly see the zebra ahead, and the fact that a vehicle had stopped at it. You couldn't see what was in front of the stopped vehicle. So why the hell don't you wait just another couple of seconds until the situation is clearer?I appreciate that you are hurrying to potentially save a life, but that driving looked reckless to me – if I was that pedestrian it would be no compensation that it was an ambulance that killed me.

  13. but…the pedestrian *wasn't* killed, due to the care and attention that was being taken by the driver of the ambulance. As Tom says, the ambulance was at a halt before it got to the zebra lines. The ambulance was going fast and trying to get round the city traffic obstacles like it should, but was still safe and hurt no one.

    I don't think this excuses the sheer muppetry of a person who crosses the road when there's an ambulance approaching, zebra crossing or otherwise.

    Why are commenters sitting at their computers criticising the ambulance driver in a rush to save a life without risking others, but perhaps not processing the finest letters of traffic law at every second… and not the boy who couldn't manage “stop, look, listen, think”?

  14. That looks like a fantastic example of what those driving-test hazard perception things should be like (not having done one myself, I can't say if they're actually like that – is the Driving Instructor around here, perhaps he could advise?).The opening shot is of zebra crossing and bus. For any driver that should ring an alarm bell. The bus is obscuring the start of the crossing – you can't tell if it will be safe to cross the crossing until you can see either end of it. So you MUST slow down to a speed at which you can safely stop should there be a pedestrian on the crossing.

    This applies to any driver, whether driving an emergency vehicle on blues & twos or not. The fact that any pedestrian might hear you coming and choose to wait is beside the point – you still need to be prepared and able to stop safely if necessary.

    Incidentally, as a pedestrian crossing that crossing, if there were no sirens going I would have walked out only far enough to check that any oncoming vehicle was going to stop. Even a van driver overtaking the bus might not have anticipated and/or seen you.

    In this case it looks like you were able to stop if necessary (just about!) although only because the driver was completely alert.

    But really I guess the point is that the pedestrian should have been a little more cautious, and perhaps the driver a tiny bit more so too. I'm sure the pedestrian didn't consciously think “ah, and emergency vehicle, it's OK it will stop” (although sometimes it is hard to tell where exactly the sirens are coming from… in which case a pedestrian might reasonably have “proceeded with caution and been prepared to stop”…)

  15. After reading Tom's latest update, I think I will retract the bit about the driver needing to be more cautious, and blame it instead on the camera playing tricks.But as a pedestrian, if it wasn't clear which way the sirens were coming from I might have walked a metre or so out onto the crossing, just enough to see round the bus, and then checked the ambulance wasn't coming my way before proceeding. (I don't know about that particular area, but certainly in the area I frequently walk around, there are numerous roads going parallel in different directions separated by only small distances, and it is often very difficult to tell which way (or on which road) the sirens are moving.)

  16. A few things to point out, firstly there isn't a bus stop on the zig-zags, the bus has stopped there to allow the ambulance to pass. Secondly the guy crossing doesn't look to see if anything is coming past the bus, although this may be because he thinks that the bus has stopped so it's safe to cross.

  17. let's note that it isn't someone *walking* across a pedestrian crossing, but a kid *riding* across. Now it may be old-fashioned of me, but I thought cyclists were supposed to dismount and walk their bicycle across, not ride it. Me, I blame the parents …

  18. Firstly, the bus has not stopped for the crossing, it has stopped for the ambulance. If you look closely it has pulled up well short of the crossing and tight into the kerb, this is not the driving position. Since the whole length of the bus is in the zigzag area this can't be a bus stop (unless newham has enacted the laws bus drivers think exist)The road conditions were good and the ambulance was going at a speed which they could stop in time. And Lo, they did even if it was a bit rough for those on board

    The pedestrian upon hearing sirens (doubly so if a change of tone aproaching the hazard was used), should look very closely before crossing. If cars start pulling over to the side of the road that is a good clue that it is coming this way.

  19. that's what I thought – that maybe the kid thought the bus was stopping for him to cross – but I've looked at this frame by frame, and there's one hell of a gap between the crossing and the bus.Gosh, London is going to be so exciting when kiddo gets his driving licence…

  20. you should be careful travelling with your leg up on the dashboard like that……..surely you will get a few broken bones if you head on with someone else!

  21. AlisonW, you're right if I remember my highway code correctly. Pedestrian crossings are for pedestrians, and not for cyclists. Isn't it also illegal to exercise your dog whilst riding a bike? Or is that my imagination.

  22. Yikes. And wow. Jeeee-sus. That kid is definitely in the shallow end of the gene pool.Not to excuse the pear-witted things people do, and it doesn't apply to a walker or cyclist, but I do know that when you're in a car with the windows closed, it can be very difficult to figure out where the siren noise is coming from. What's more, if the blue-lighted car really is behind you, they can come up so fast that they're on top of you while you're still going “Wha-a-a-a?” (I've been lucky, and have always managed to be out of the way while going wha-a-a-a, but I live in fear of being the ultimate doofus one of these days.)

    I don't know if there's some technical fix to the quality of sound a siren produces that would make it easier to grasp the direction it's coming from. If, for whatever reason, you don't happen to hear them until they're pretty close, they sound like they're coming from everywhere at once.

  23. dear readers please take note of this video, and see how things can be maipulated.until the update was posted, everybody seemed to be of the view that the driver was driving dangerously – just think what happened everyday in our media to portray whatever message they want to pass over.

    i'm surprised nobody said anything about his boot being where the airbag would have deployed from in the event of a collision.

    i spend most of my working day in the back of ambulances as part of a retrival team, my experience is that they know the hazards, its the other nutters on the road and the police that scare me the most

  24. the long wailing and short woop sirens were originally designed for American Police, and were specifically designed to confuse thieves/muggers etc etc as to what direction the Police were coming from, thus making the escape that little bit harder for them

  25. he MISSED them?damn tom! scrote on a bike plus scrotey looking dog: your mate coulda got fifty points for them!

    “BING! BING!”

    oh, thats playstation isn't it?

    bugger

    anyone know a good lawyer?

  26. Hey, it's on the wrong side of the rood. And you're really on the driver's side of the car. It mixed me up for a second there. Never been “behind the whe…passenger's side” in England before.

  27. the real-world version is calculated on how many fifty-pence-pieces you get from the pawn shop for their bling.

  28. i cant see the video ๐Ÿ™ but still, but seriously, some people need to get a grip. How much more cautious could the driver have been? he stopped in time, there was no problem!! How would you feel if an ambulance was held up because every time they went past a pulled over car/bus they had to slow down to snails pace 'just in case'?[QUOTE]I sincerely hope you will bring this incident to the attention of your manager with the objective of forcing your colleague onto a driver improvement programme before he really does kill someone. [/QUOTE]

    omg! he is an ambulance driver!!! He is fully trained and can make rational decisions about when it is or isnt safe to cross. As an ordinary driver you have no sence of what is dangerous. and how about you get all the idiots of the road without insurance and even licences before you get onto the people who didnt even nearly hit anyone, and who drive around to save your life!

    *rant over*

    love the blog reynolds!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  29. Excellent bit of driving by the ambo dude.Can't really put any blame on the kid. You've got the sense to use a zebra (commendable, you are obviously in the top 95% of London kids where intelligence is concerned) and a bus pulls up before it. You assume the bus is letting you cross. You can possibly hear sirens. You live in London. You can possibly hear five or six sirens nearby. You have possibly mentally 'tuned-out' the noise of sirens, you live in London. Even if you can hear sirens, you can't see anything, there's a double-decker blocking the view, oh and the noise.

    That kid is an entire lesson in what we (ATC) call 'Human Factors' in himself and I've just touched on a few points).

    The bus driver. I wonder. Could he have pulled up ACROSS the zebra and still allowed room for the ambo between himself and the island? Might have been a smart move. Else he could have pulled over just after the crossing without undue delay to the ambo, there appears to be plenty of space. Maybe the kid had stepped out on 'his' zebra, assuming the bus WILL stop for him.

    Very easy to be wise after the fact of course and we can not really have the full picture without a full investigation. That would only have happened had an incident occurred. Which, of course, it didn't. Because of: EXCELLENT DRIVING BY THE AMBO DUDE.

    Thanks for the vid Tom. Would like to see more of those. I can donate bandwidth if it will help.

  30. Astoundingly good sound insulation – incredible to think it totally excludes the siren sound from entering the cabin. Wow.

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