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home : columnists : guest columnist April 16, 2014


10/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
New sirens help with emergency response
By Dennis McKinney
Crawfordsville Police

When I was given the opportunity to write an article, I struggled with choosing a topic that's relevant. As I look back on my law enforcement career, which is now approaching ten years, it's interesting to see how things have changed.

I worked straight night shift for eight years and was recently moved to day shift. I was shocked in the transition. I mean, it's the same position with the only difference being the time of hours worked. There are multiple differences between shifts, though, not to mention the time of day. I discovered the biggest difference in the two shifts ( besides the sun being out) is the amount of vehicle traffic on the roadway.

Working night shift for so many years I saw a steady flow of traffic through our town during the overnight hours but it's not even close to the number of vehicles during the day shift. I know this should appear normal, but I was astonished.

I do several high-stress activities in my career and responding to an emergency call is just one. However, when I activate my vehicle's emergency lights and siren to respond in a manner needed to help someone, the stress level is quite high. It's one of the most stressful parts of my career to me. I'm a "car guy" and it's one of the changes I've seen in my career. I mean the quality of the automobile has improved significantly in the past 10 years. Vehicles are being built better; they're quieter inside, ride smoother, etc. The big problem for me is the first of the two noted. Vehicles are quieter inside the passenger compartment, which means it's harder for you to hear me when I'm responding to an emergency. When I'm driving to an emergency and my vehicle lights and siren are operating, it's frustrating when vehicles fail to yield. I later think about all the changes and realize that drivers can't always hear us. Maybe it's the better built vehicle, the GPS providing instructions, car radio, the cell phone call or Heaven forbid - texting while driving. Whatever it is I'm not sure, but it makes emergency driving difficult.

I install all the emergency equipment in our vehicles along with Lt. Chesterson and I'm always looking for ways to better equip our fleet. This year we have installed a new siren speaker called the "Rumbler." Have you heard it? It's a new idea where a low frequency sound is amplified and causes a rumble type sound. The Rumbler is great for moving through high congested areas because the sound is not loud, but at such a low frequency it can be heard and felt. The Rumbler was put through extensive testing and was found to be so beneficial that New York City installed 5,000 of them in their fleet of 8,000 cars. My hope is the new siren will assist officers in getting to an emergency scene quickly and safely. I also hope we can continue to add this siren to the existing fleet as soon as we can.

So the next time you are driving through Crawfordsville, you may experience this new siren passing you as an officer is attempting to help someone in need. Just remember, if you see or hear an emergency vehicle, always slow down and try to pull to the right side of the roadway. It could be a family member of friend of yours that we're trying to help.

Officer Dennis McKinney of the Crawfordsville Police Department wrote this column. A representative of the Police Department submits columns periodically to The Paper of Montgomery County.







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