Stepping into the role of an ambulance driver can mean that you are often faced with stressful situations, there is a lot of pressure on the driver to get to their destination in the quickest time, as safely as possible. Of course, intense training will be required to gain your C1 licence, but similar to any driving related job, you will never know the full extent of the role until you are in the driving seat. There are aspects of ambulance driving that can mean you will be faced with dangerous situations, so we have devised a list of the top ambulance rules to help make you a safer driver.
Top Ambulance Rules
Many different steps come before your C1 training and test, some of which include applying for a provisional licence and a full medical examination. You will need to book in for an appointment at your local doctor’s surgery, and if the results show you are all fit and well, the forms will need to be sent along with your application form to the DVLA. The process of gaining a C1 license is very similar to that of a regular license meaning that a theory, hazard perception and practical test will have to be passed. Once all is passed, you will need to put what you have learnt into practice, so keep reading for our tips on how to become a safer ambulance driver!
First and foremost, to be a safe driver, you need to have a safe vehicle. Ambulances will be put through a lot, which can easily cause issues, no matter the weather condition or destination of the accident; you need to be able to drive to the scene. Each vehicle needs to be thoroughly checked regularly, which some days may be a hassle meaning that things are missed off the checklist.
Sirens will regularly need to be checked and cleaned out, especially in the winter. In colder conditions, when ice and snow start to form, they often begin to build up in the siren cone meaning that they are blocking the sound, decreasing the volume of the siren. Tyres need to be maintained to the highest-level meaning that the tyre tread depth needs to be checked and inflated to its correct depth if needed. Wipers are essential in weather conditions such as heavy rain, which in the UK is more than likely and snow. Being an ambulance driver in an emergency means that you need to be able to get to the scene of the accident in as little time as possible, so it is vital that your vision is as clear as it can be. Wiper blades start to crack over time making it harder for them to be able to clear whatever is on the windscreen, so if you notice that they are not doing their job as well as you’d hoped, they need to be replaced immediately.
Parking can be a very tricky task when you are operating a vehicle as big as an ambulance. It is unlikely that there will be specialised parking spaces for ambulances, so you will be forced to have to park in a regularly sized space, but if done properly you will just about fit. Before even considering reversing into a space, a thorough check will need to be taken out of your surroundings, in particular, blind spots. There will be considerably more blind spots when driving an ambulance compared to a car. The best steps to carry out to ensure you successfully park between the two white lines are to firstly line up both your left tyre and the inside of the left white line. Use the left-hand white line to guide you into the space; as long as you are parallel to the line, you will be inside the space. Always remember to stop regularly to check your surroundings and ensure all spots are clear from disruptions.
Emergency callouts need to be carried out calmly and with a precise plan in mind. Before leaving, try to determine with your colleague the fastest route to get to the destination. The ongoing rule is that the shortest route is not always the fastest. Once you have experience in the role, you will start to pick up and remember routes that you aim to avoid due to, for example, traffic or small streets that are hard to manoeuvre an ambulance in. When other drivers hear a siren, they often panic, although they know exactly what to do, this can sometimes be forgotten due to sudden panic. If this situation does occur and they are taking a little longer to react, try not to tailgate them, it will only stress them out more. If the weather is icy or raining, make sure that you increase your stopping distance, just as you would so when operating a car. An increased stopping distance is even more important when driving an ambulance because you will be driving at a higher speed than you would normally, even in bad weather conditions, you will need to get to your destination in minimal time.
One of the most important points to remember when on an emergency call out is always to make you visible to other drivers and pedestrians. Always go in the lane that seems quieter as it will give other drivers more time to spot you and move out of your way safely.
In all aspects of driving, no matter the vehicle, only you can determine how safe you are as a driver. Ambulance driving is all about planning, which starts from before you even set off on your journey. Schedule in time when you know it will be quieter and you will have some spare time to give a quick look over on your vehicle. Is everything intact? Are there any aspects that you need to take a closer look into? When it comes to an emergency callout, again plan ahead. What is the quickest route? How can you avoid hold-ups?