When the bay doors of an ambulance company or fire department open and the emergency vehicle pulls into traffic, the challenge begins. Depending on the time of the emergency call, the weather, and other contributing factors, speed will be of the essence. Particularly in serious situations, an emergency unit arriving safely and quickly could be the difference between life or death.
Contributing factors to a timely response revolve largely around getting through traffic. You can lay on that horn or siren and yet not a car (or driver) responds. Why is that? Are there crying children in their car? Is the driver making a telephone call, listening to the stereo, or (God forbid) texting? Are their windows sealed too tightly and their air conditioning running too loudly to hear your horn blasts?
In addition to sirens and horns, effective emergency LED lighting is crucial.
The Risks of an Emergency Call
Everybody’s in a hurry in this mobile society in which we live. Distractions, drugs, alcohol, and fatigue can impair drivers on a daily basis. There can be grave consequences involved in the risky business of emergency response. High risk rears its ugly head every time sirens and lights are turned on and an ambulance or other emergency vehicle weaves its way through traffic. Emergency vehicles must be easily identifiable, seen, and heard to avoid collisions.
Emergency vehicle identification is affected by a number of variables including the following:
- Environmental factors
- Retro reflective striping
- Conspicuous markings
- Color scheme
- Vehicle size
- Horns and sirens
Emergency lighting that is unmistakable and properly positioned is another essential element.
Specifications for Lighting
Bylaw, a minimum amount of lights are required on an ambulance. These include the following:
- Brake lights
- Marker lights
- Signal lights
- Tail lights
The placement and selection of additional emergency lighting and has been developed over time to assist agencies in the industry. The placement of lighting is important. It needs to capture the attention of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, and alert them – in no uncertain terms – to your presence (as in an emergency vehicle). This is particularly crucial when intersections are being entered. Emergency lighting on a vehicle must make it easy to spot during nighttime and daytime hours, define the lower and upper clearances of the vehicle, and increase the ambulance’s conspicuity.
Mounting Emergency Call Lighting
The mounting of emergency lights should be located on all sides, close to the corner points, on the ambulance box. Mounted to the front and rear corners, lower lights should be added, aft and forward of the vehicle’s two axles. For this application, LED strip lights work well and use minimal power.
To outline the front of the ambulance, lights should be installed in the grill/bumper area and above the cab. As you approach from the rear, these lights make your ambulance visible to vehicles that are low-profile. There are several sizes and configurations of front grill lights, but all should be mounted away from the headlights toward the center of the grill.
For over-the-cab lighting, roof mounted LED light bars are an excellent option and use little amperage. Should you choose to change the flash pattern and lighting configuration, this type of lighting can be programmed easily with a laptop computer. Today’s new technologically-enhanced light bars are more user-friendly, aerodynamic, and brighter than those from years ago.
Finally, mounted directly to the body and installed above the cab, one more option is individual surface-mounted lights. These lights can flash in different patterns, colors, and perform multiple functions when clear lenses are installed on each light. Rather than dissecting an entire light bar when a light burns out, this type of light is much easier to repair as a single surface-mounted unit. At Mickey Genuine Parts, we carry a plethora of parts, accessories, and equipment. Emergency items like lighting are part of our inventory. If you need help with installation, we have certified service centers located throughout the United States for your convenience. Peruse our selection of lighting and/or speak to one of our knowledgeable representatives today.