Vehicle Detection

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					VEHICLE OPERATIONS                                                                                                                          By Mark J. Finucane




                             Vehicle Detection
          New technology aims to inform the public about emergency vehicles

    Dealing with difficult traffic problems that slow emergency vehicles         typically nondirectional, and the time taken to search for and locate the
 as they travel to their destinations is a dilemma encountered on a daily        emergency vehicle after hearing the siren is a crucial factor in decreasing
 basis. Anticipating and identifying hazards while responding to incident        the reaction time.10
 scenes is critical for ensuring safe arrival.                                     Reducing response times by emergency services is vital. The Early
    Deaths in crashes account for a significant proportion of annual fire-       Emergency Detection System (EEDS) is designed to assist responders
 fighter fatalities. Motorists represent the greatest threat to safe and effi-   by giving an early warning signal to motorists that emergency vehicles
 cient responses by emergency vehicles.1 Every year in the U.S., there are       are approaching. The ability of other drivers to detect and safely avoid
 almost 16,000 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles.          emergency vehicles is crucial to collision prevention.11
 In 2008, Rita Fahy from the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire
 Analysis and Research Division completed a study on U.S. firefighter            HOW EEDS WORKS
 fatalities in road vehicle crashes from 1998–2007.2 She found that                 With EEDS, emergency vehicles are equipped with a transmitter to send
 overall, crashes, including collisions and rollovers, consistently accounted    an electronic warning signal ahead of the unit. The driver activates a switch
 for the second-largest share of firefighter deaths. The number of deaths        to send out the signal. The public can pick up this signal with a receiver
 annually ranged from lows of 10 in 1998 and 2006 to highs of 25 in              plugged in to a cigarette lighter. The receiver will have a blinking light, buzzer
 2003 and 2007.                                                                  and recorded message to inform the driver that an emergency vehicle is
                                                                                 approaching. When the vehicle ignition is turned on in new-model vehicles,
     Emergency vehicle operators must always                                     the EEDS will be reception-ready. The plug-in receiver operates indepen-
                                                                                 dently of the car’s radio, and the radio does not need to be on for EEDS to
      be cognizant that they have little control                                 provide the early warning.
    over the way members of the public react to                                     If the emergency vehicle is traveling at 40 miles an hour, the public
                                                                                 will have approximately 20 seconds to clear a lane by pulling over to
        audible and visual warning devices.                                      the right. This will allow the emergency vehicle a free lane to continue
    Responding emergency units should make every effort to minimize the          to its destination.
 risk of injury to themselves and the public. One of the most frustrating           The inventor of EEDS is Ralph Pickens from Kingsport, TN. Pickens had
 things for emergency response drivers is moving through traffic in a timely     an experience with a responding emergency medical unit as he was on
 manner. Many people panic or simply don’t adhere to the rules of the            his way to the local post office. He was inspired to find a safer and more
 road for approaching emergency vehicles. EMS personnel have witnessed           efficient way for emergency responders to deal with traffic problems. He
 instantaneous panic reactions among automobile drivers who, after being         conceived the idea after discussions with local emergency personnel.
 approached by fast-moving ambulances with sirens yelping and lights                Greg Duncan, maintenance division director of the Tennessee
 blazing, didn’t know whether to stop, swerve, pull over or just keep going.3    Department of Transportation, says EEDS falls into the category of intel-
 Many such drivers become hazards to themselves, other vehicles, and the         ligent transportation systems (ITS), since it is providing communications
 emergency crews and their patients.3                                            from vehicle to vehicle. According to Duncan, EEDS devices appear most
    A complicating issue is that sirens must compete with vehicle noise.         effective when all vehicles are equipped, and a national effort should be
 Sounds created by engines, drivetrain and exhaust systems, car radios,          spearheaded by groups such as the Intelligent Transportation Society of
 and vibrations from h
				
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