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Emergency Workers Remind Drivers To Respect 'Right Of Way' Over Holiday Weekend

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The Oklahoma City Fire Department and Paramedics here at EMSA respond to more than 80,000 emergency calls a year, which averages about 200 calls a day. The Oklahoma City Fire Department and Paramedics here at EMSA respond to more than 80,000 emergency calls a year, which averages about 200 calls a day.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The Labor Day holiday weekend officially kicks off on Friday and with thousands of people hitting the road, emergency crews want to remind you to give them the right of way when you see their lights flashing and hear their sirens blaring.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department and Paramedics here at EMSA respond to more than 80,000 emergency calls a year, which averages about 200 calls a day.

Oklahoma City police respond to nearly five times as many calls and they say when people don't pull over to the right side of the road and give them the right of way, it can drastically affect their response times and that could be the difference between life and death.

"We don't want you pulling out in a red light or something like that, but try to make room for these emergency vehicles," said Jim Winham, General Manager for EMSA. "It's extremely important for them to get to these calls."

Fire crews say they're experiencing the same thing.

"They don't hear, they have their radios on, they're not hearing the sirens," said Deputy Chief Marc Woodard with the Oklahoma City Fire Department. "And it's just taking a while to see people pull over. Next time, it might be their family, their loved one involved.  And we just need to get there as soon as we can to provide emergency services as soon as we can."

News 9 noticed trucks and cars driving by during our afternoon ride along, even though we had the sirens and lights going. And police say you could get in trouble for that.

"We see people putting on makeup, shaving or reading books, eating food, listening to their iPods while they are going down the roadway," said Capt. Dexter Nelson with the Oklahoma City Police Department. "All of these things affect the driver. All of these are chargeable offenses."

Oklahoma City police say just this past June, they had an officer hit because a driver failed to move to the other lane and hit the back of the police car. So again, when you hear the sirens of see the lights, don't panic, just pull over to the right. No matter which side of the road you are on.

EMSA ambulances have also added a low frequency warning tone to their trucks that actually vibrates the cars around them to get their attention. Paramedics say that has made an impact on driver awareness.

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