How are 999 drivers trained?
Jan 13 2009 by Andrew Hirst, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
IN the wake of Saturday’s road accident when three pedestrians were hurt in an accident with a fire engine deputy news editor ANDREW HIRST takes a look at how 999 drivers are trained and the pressures they face.
DRIVING a fire engine, ambulance or police car is a highly pressured job.
We all see the Police Camera Action-style programmes on TV that are there for entertainment, although the programme-makers would claim they are educational.
But every time a fire engine, police car or ambulance sets off to deal with an emergency the pressure really is on.
The drivers have to make continual risk assessments on every journey.
Is it safe to go through a red light; if so, the duty of care is on them to make sure all other drivers have seen them.
If the traffic is totally jammed up in front of them what do they do? Turn the lights and sirens off so as not to panic drivers in front into taking a risk or inch forward through the traffic?
When should they go on the wrong side of the road?
It’s decision time every few seconds and if an emergency vehicle driver is involved in any accident they know the investigation into their every decision and action will be exhaustive.
But with so many emergency vehicles making several blue light responses every day in Huddersfield the accident toll is incredibly low.
Saturday’s was the first serious accident involving a fire engine in Huddersfield for many years.
Bad accidents involving ambulances and police cars are also rare.
This could be due to the quality of the training.
West Yorkshire Police drivers go through some of the best training in the world, with about 1,000 officers doing the driving course or a refresher every year.