When do ambulance lights turn off?

Flashing lights give people warning. The ambulance lights are turned off in some cases: when an emergency situation ends or when ambulance has to stay at scene for a longer period of time.

Emergency Situation Ends
More Time Needed at Scene

1) Emergency Situation Ends

Lights are off when there is no emergency.

1a) Patient successfully rescued or saved

In cases when the patient is initially in a critical condition, the paramedics may begin resuscitation. The medic starts CPR and begins pushing hard on the chest. He delivers mouth to mouth.

You may begin to see signs of life if the patient condition improves.

In the ambulance, the patient may recover and regain consciousness. This changes the state of the medical case from “emergency” to “non-urgent” classification. Speed is no longer a critical factor.

The medics can turn off the ambulance lights and siren to then signal the situation is no longer time sensitive.

1b) Patient passes away in the ambulance

Ambulance officers try hard and give their best to save lives. Despite their greatest effort, a couple patients succumb to the injuries. Medically incapacitated, patients may be pronounced dead inside the vehicle.

Medics can declare death so if breathing ceases, heart stops, etc. And in those cases, the staff will turn off the lights the ambulance lights. The vehicle itself would signal and turn out from the overtaking lane (on the road). Reason?

With a deceased patient, there is no longer any rush to get to the hospital. Or even beat the traffic.

Patients who need CPR or stopped breathing need critical intervention immediately. The ambulance will have to wait.

2) Prolonged Wait at Scene

When the ambulance has to wait, we keep the engine hot for awhile. After about 15 minutes, the crew turns everything that is not necessary off.

2a) More time needed during critical situations

The ambulance crew will take more time for serious injuries. These situations can be complicated to handle at scene so the medics generally spend time to correctly stabilise the patient before evacuation.

We want to have the right priority here. Get the patient out of an urgent (or dangerous) medical condition first? Or ship the patient off to the hospital first?

Besides, isn’t a hospital just a place we know which has lots of medical equipment meant to treat the patient? Wouldn’t it be better if we get treatment done early and on-site? Consider these.

2b) Idling exhaust pollutes the air

Leaving the lights and engine on in an idle state is harmful.

With the engine still running and lights switched on, there will be air pollution from the exhaust fumes. These gases from the ambulance exhaust are toxic. If these fumes are trapped in the cabin, the people may be unintentionally poisoned. Thus, the ambulance lights are switched off completely together with the engine.

Further, in some countries, air pollution is an offence. The ambulance organisation can also be penalised and the driver fined.

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This post was last modified on March 16, 2021 7:01 pm