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Burns EMTs allowed emergency lights on scene


February 15, 2018

Citing excessive risks, Burns Town Council member denied a request that volunteer EMTs utilize emergency lights in their personal vehicles Monday.

Council Member Dennis Bastian said he’s “done the math” and concluded that having emergency lights in their vehicles wouldn’t make a substantial difference in response times for Burns EMTs.

“If you run the numbers, the amount of time saved is not worth the risks,” Bastian said. “It would be measured in seconds, not minutes.”

Bastian noted that EMTs would only travel about 10 mph over the speed limit if they were allowed to use emergency lights in their vehicles.

Burns EMTs will be allowed to utilize lights once they arrive on a scene, which would help other emergency responders like EMTs from Cheyenne-based American Medical Response.

“The only advantage that I can see with them having lights in their vehicles is if they’re at an accident scene or at somebody’s house in town and their (emergency) lights are on, and they’re by themselves, AMR has to come and transport anyway,” Mayor Ralph Bartels said. “AMR can find them if their lights are on.”

That was an important point for council member Judy Johnstone, who said that’s exactly how AMR personnel located a loved one who needed medical attention.

“Once they get to the scene they could have something they pop on their roof,” Bastian said.

Ultimately, the council’s decision stemmed from fear of legal repercussions.

“They (would) have a better chance of killing someone than saving someone,” Bastian said. “There’s too many possibilities of something going wrong.”

Bastian also suggested that, a decade down the road, the wrong person could get behind the wheel of a personal car equipped with emergency lights.

“The people we have in there now — I trust them,” Bastian said. “Ten years down the road, this is still a possibility: Some drunken teenager could say, ‘Mom’s got lights in the car — let’s go.’”


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