Public’s assistance sought by emergency responders
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
Members of the Ontario Provincial Police are asking the public’s help to keep emergency responders and people they are interacting with safe.
Police recently held an education blitz over the Civic Day long weekend, reminding drivers of the Ontario Move Over law after seeing a slow, but steady increase in the number of Move Over charges laid since 2010.
Sioux Lookout OPP Sergeant Andrew Simpson explained what is required of members of the public under Section 159 of the Highway Traffic Act when coming upon an emergency vehicle or when one is coming toward them.
“If members of the public are travelling along a roadway and they see an emergency vehicle pulled over on the side of the road with its emergency lights on, most commonly around here for a traffic stop, members of the public are required to slow down and move over to the left to give a sufficient safety zone between their vehicle and the emergency vehicle. On a multi-lane highway, which we don’t have in the Sioux Lookout area, people are required to move over one full lane. We want to ensure members of the public move over as close to centre or if it’s on a straightway and it’s clear, and it is safe to do so, ride the centre line. The key is slowing down. If you are not able to move over then that almost makes up for that.”
He continued, “When an emergency motor vehicle with lights or sirens or both is approaching you, you are required to slow down, to stop and pull off to the side of the road, and that includes if the vehicle is coming head on toward you in the opposite lane or is coming from behind you and wants to pass you.”
Failure to do so can result in a fine of $400 to $2000 plus three demerit points.
Since 1989, five OPP officers have been killed as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle while doing their job on the roadside and many more have been injured. The OPP’s law enforcement and other safety partners have also lost colleagues in these situations.
“The OPP would like to see full compliance with this law indicating that drivers are fully on board with helping us keep officers and all other emergency responders safe on the roadside,” said Chief Superintendent Chuck Cox, the new Provincial Commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division.
Sioux Lookout Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rob Favot also asks people to be courteous of firefighters on their way to a fire call.
“Back in about 1990 the Highway Traffic Act allowed firefighters to display a flashing green light when responding to emergencies. That green light is usually located on the dash in the centre of the vehicle. The purpose of that flashing green light is to help other drivers recognize a firefighter enroute to an emergency, to be courteous to them, and give them the right of way. Firefighters still need to drive their vehicle safely and follow the rules of the road. It’s about being courteous and moving over to let them by to respond to a fire call,” he said.