It takes special training and experience to safely operate ambulances on emergency calls. All ambulance drivers must pass a Virginia state-mandated Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) and successfully perform a number of actual “lights and sirens” emergency responses with an experienced instructor before being released as an ambulance driver. EVOC consists of a written exam and a practical test, where drivers must successfully negotiate a variety of difficult courses, marked by traffic cones, that simulate situations faced by ambulance drivers during actual emergency calls.
Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad’s members, many who have never previously driven a vehicle larger than a small passenger car, are extensively trained to operate a 10 ton, 10-foot-high ambulance safely during both non-emergency and emergency driving. To prepare drivers for the EVOC test, we have them practice on “cone courses,” where they negotiate obstacles laid out with traffic cones. By the end of their training, they are able to complete all of the courses without hitting cones and are well-prepared for their EVOC class. At the start of the course, well……, accidents happen.
As emergency medical professionals, we are used to treating injuries of all kinds, so we wanted to have a little fun at the expense of the unsung heroes of our EVOC training- our Traffic Cones.
No Traffic Cones were harmed in the creation of this article.
This story is fictious, but is based on a real incident. The numbers of the Traffic Cones have been changed to protect their identity.
It was a cloudy Saturday morning. The Sterling Rescue Day Crew took advantage of an empty parking lot at Riverbend Middle School to conduct pre-EVOC training for two members. Cone courses were laid out in accordance with the Virginia Department of Fire Programs and Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads, Inc. standards. There was an instructor on board the ambulance, with the student, and a Safety Officer, observing the training and ensuring that no other cars or personnel entered the training area.
At first, everything went well. The two students successfully completed the Diminishing Clearance and the Perpendicular Backing courses. The first student was negotiating the difficult Serpentine course, which requires weaving in and out of tightly-spaced cones placed in a line, both forward and backward, when disaster struck.
From eyewitness Traffic Cone #41– “The student went a little wide and it was really hard to correct. He headed straight towards Traffic Cone #42–
From eyewitness Traffic Cone #43- “It was ugly. I saw the ambulance get by #41 and head straight for #42. The Safety Officer had the ambulance stop, but there #42 was, wadded up under the truck.
From responding Sterling Rescue Paramedic #1– “We arrived on scene to find one full-sized Traffic Cone, pinned under an ambulance. After we made sure the scene was safe, we immediately checked the Cone for airway, breathing and circulation. We performed a rapid extrication and a rapid top hole to base examination.”
From responding Sterling Rescue Paramedic #2– “We had to assist the Cone’s breathing for a minute or two. The base appeared intact on palpation, but we backboarded the Cone as a precaution. When we got the Cone on the backboard, everything popped back in place. We all breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that things were going to be okay.”
From the patient, Traffic Cone #42– “I took a pretty good hit, but bounced right back into shape. Sterling Rescue does great training. They are on the front line, responsible for calls in their area 24/7 and are a tremendous help to their community. I’m proud to work with them, and ready to get run over again anytime to help their training.”
Interested in becoming an Emergency Medical Technician and being trained in emergency driving in a great volunteer organization that is also fun? Visit us at our Join Section to learn more.