Sirens: Hot or Not? Experts Say Yes


ambulance on emergency car in motion blur
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Imagine the sound of a siren: 🚨 WEEEOOOEEEOOOEEEOOO 🚨 Does that strike fear into your heart? Make you freeze up mid-movement? Fill you with the rush of adrenaline and a confidence boost to exercise uncharacteristically bold decision making?

The answer is d) sirens can do all of the above, which, combined with the flashing lights and speeding that usually accompany an emergency vehicle siren, may not always have a positive outcome, the New York Times reports.

Let us the count the ways, as described in the Times piece:

  • “Emergency drivers are more likely to engage in risky behavior when they use lights and sirens” — hmm not great
  • “Also, other drivers sometimes respond in unpredictable ways, such as stopping right in front of an emergency vehicle instead of pulling out of the way” — not great
  • “Further, the use of lights and sirens has been shown to have little bearing on patient outcomes” — then what is the point?
  • “Sirens can be useful in certain situations, such as getting through red lights or stop signs … ” — oh?
  • “… but they can be harmful to responders, who can suffer premature hearing loss, and to patients, who can be stressed by the noise.” — not great
  • “And then there is the risk of accidents” — yikes
  • “… but they create an allure that can help in recruiting volunteers” — oh?

Overall, kind of a mixed bag. Sirens: you can’t live with ‘em, you can’t live without ‘em. What about you, reader, do you love hearing the piercing shriek of a harpy trapped inside a horn hurtling down the road at 50 mph, or is there an alternative sensory disturbance that would properly grab your attention in the event of an emergency? Maybe instead of sirens ambulances should blast earth-rumbling, hip-shaking K-pop like the kind that used to be played at the DMZ bordering South and North Korea.