After dangerous crash, first responders urge public to follow emergency response protocol

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- An IMPD officer and another driver remain hospitalized after a violent crash on the city's west side. The officer was responding to a hold-up alarm and had lights and sirens activated. Police said the driver hit the officer's car when she was approaching an intersection.

Sgt. Chris Wilburn said the female officer followed proper emergency protocol when entering the intersection. He said that means intersections are closed lane by lane, making sure there's no oncoming traffic before going through.

First responders said intersections are the most dangerous areas when responding to emergencies.

"We still recognize the red light and we have to stop. Even when it's green, we're slowing down," IFD Lt. Bernie Mickler said.

When it comes to drivers ignoring an oncoming emergency vehicle, Lt. Mickler said, he's seen it all. Distracted driving is the most common offender with drivers on their cell phones.

Lt. Mickler said loud music also makes it more difficult for drivers to hear sirens and horns even more the emergency vehicle gets close. He's even seen drivers going over the curb to quickly get out of the way.

"We try not to cause an accident for them just trying to get out of our way," said Lt. Mickler.

When you see lights and sirens approaching, the proper protocol is to get into the far right lane, creating space for first responders, but that doesn't always happen.

"They’ll see us coming, we’ll see their brake lights and we're thinking, what are they gonna do and they’ll literally stop in the middle of the street which is very dangerous for everybody," Lt. Mickler said.

Add rush hour traffic to the equation and firefighters, EMS, and police have to maneuver through a dangerous puzzle to get to the scene of an emergency. Lt. Mickel said sometimes, they have to approach the intersection via the oncoming traffic lanes, which makes veering to the right even more important.

After Thursday's crash, first responders are encouraging the public to pay even more attention on the roads.

"You have no idea the amount of skill these officers and these first responders are utilizing when they’re responding in that status," Sgt. Wilburn said.

Police are still investigating the crash.

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