Emergency vehicle

An emergency vehicle is any vehicle that is designated and authorized to respond to an emergency in a life-threatening situation. These vehicles are usually operated by designated agencies, often part of the government, but also run by charities, non-governmental organizations and some commercial companies. Often emergency vehicles are permitted by law to break conventional road rules in order to reach their destinations in the fastest possible time, such as driving through an intersection when the traffic light is red, or exceeding the speed limit. In some states, however, the driver of an emergency vehicle can still be sued if the driver shows "reckless disregard for the safety of others."[1]

Urgences-santé ambulance
An ambulance in Montreal, Canada


There are many types of emergency vehicle, dependent on jurisdiction. Some examples of emergency vehicles include:

Law Enforcement
Emergency Medical Services
Civil Emergency Service
  • Public utility crews dealing with gas, electricity or water or to repair defective equipment on scene.
  • Tow Truck Crews remove disabled vehicles and accidents from road ways.
  • Locksmith Crews that drive to a locked out car and attempt to unlock it.


Many emergency response vehicles (especially those of the main police, fire and ambulance services) are likely to be fitted with audible and visual warning devices, which are designed to facilitate their movement through traffic to reach their destination, and to provide some protection on the scene.

Depending on local laws, vehicles on the road may be required to yield the right of way to emergency responders who are using their warning devices. For example, in Utah, when an emergency vehicle is on the road while using its warning devices, all cars are required to pull over to the side of the road, stop, and wait for the vehicle to pass before resuming normal driving, unless doing so would cause an accident or if stopped at a red light/stop sign. Even in areas where no such laws exist, many motorists may allow the vehicle to pass as a matter of courtesy.

Summoning assistance

In many countries, emergency vehicles are usually dispatched from a center that takes calls from an emergency telephone number, such as 9-1-1, 999, 1-1-1 or 1-1-2.


Colour and design choices reflect several needs, but typically may include:

  • Identification of the service – Such as New York State Police or City of Tokyo Fire Department, to which the vehicle belongs and helps identify its purpose to the public and other services. In some areas, the name of the service ("ambulance", "fire" etc.) may be written in reverse lettering on the front of the vehicle to provide a view of the approaching vehicle in a rear view mirror.
  • Vehicle ID number – This may be a simple asset tracking number (for maintenance etc.) or may also be the unit number which can be used by control to identify them. Many vehicles also display their vehicle number on their roof or trunk (boot) lid, to be identifiable from the air.
  • High visibility markings – Responding emergency vehicles want to be conspicuous, as do emergency vehicles parked at a scene (so they do not get hit by other vehicles). Many departments use passive visual warnings such as reflective lettering and/or striping to increase their visibility. Other patterns include checker-board (battenburg) or chevrons. For police departments, there can be a competing need for stealth. Police departments can use minimally marked cars with subdued graphics that blend in with the car's body color, but they can also use unmarked civilian-like vehicles (typically for detectives, undercover investigators, SWAT, and higher-ranking officers), which may be similar to their marked units, or may be entirely different.
  • Contact information – There may well be a telephone number written on the side of the vehicle which can be called to summon it. Whilst this also applies in areas where there is a single emergency telephone number, it is especially important where a system of local numbers is in place, or where the service is a secondary service (such as a utility company). In some cases, the vehicle may display an internet address for people to go and find more information about the operator.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/TN/htm/TN.546.htm

External links

Box junction

A box junction, which was invented by Charles Hutchings, is a road traffic control measure designed to prevent congestion and gridlock at junctions. The surface of the junction is typically marked with a yellow criss-cross grid of diagonal painted lines (or only two lines crossing each other in the box), and vehicles may not enter the area so marked unless their exit from the junction is clear, or they are intending to turn right and are prevented from doing so by oncoming traffic, or other vehicles on the box waiting to turn right.

Box junctions were introduced in the UK during 1967, following a successful trial in London. In both Ireland and the United Kingdom (where cars drive on the left), drivers may enter the box and wait when they want to turn right and are stopped from doing so only by oncoming traffic or by other vehicles waiting to turn right.Box junctions may be painted on other areas of roadway which must be kept free of queuing traffic, such as exits from emergency vehicle depots, level crossings and car parks.

Box junctions are most widely used in many European countries such as Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Serbia and the United Kingdom; in parts of the United States, such as New York and Colorado; and other countries, including Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan and Brazil.

Dedicated short-range communications

Dedicated short-range communications are one-way or two-way short-range to medium-range wireless communication channels specifically designed for automotive use and a corresponding set of protocols and standards.

Electric generator

In electricity generation, a generator is a device that converts motive power (mechanical energy) into electrical power for use in an external circuit. Sources of mechanical energy include steam turbines, gas turbines, water turbines, internal combustion engines, wind turbines and even hand cranks. The first electromagnetic generator, the Faraday disk, was invented in 1831 by British scientist Michael Faraday. Generators provide nearly all of the power for electric power grids.

The reverse conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy is done by an electric motor, and motors and generators have many similarities. Many motors can be mechanically driven to generate electricity and frequently make acceptable manual generators.

Emergency vehicle equipment

Emergency vehicle equipment is any equipment fitted to, or carried by, an emergency vehicle, other than the equipment that a standard non-emergency vehicle is fitted with (such as headlights, steering wheels, and windshield/windscreens).

Emergency vehicle equipment in the United Kingdom

Emergency vehicle equipment is used in the United Kingdom to indicate urgent journeys by an emergency service. This usage is colloquially known as Blues and twos which refers to the blue lights and the two-tone siren once commonplace (although most sirens now have a range of tones like Wail, Yelp and Phaser). A call-out requiring the use of lights and sirens is often colloquially known as a blue light run.

Emergency vehicle lighting

Emergency vehicle lighting is one or more visual warning lights fitted to a vehicle for use when the driver wishes to convey to other road users the urgency of their journey, to provide additional warning of a hazard when stationary, or in the case of law enforcement as a means of signalling another driver to stop for interaction with an officer. These lights may be dedicated emergency lights, such as a beacon or a light bar, or may be modified stock lighting, such as a wig-wag or hide-away light, and are additional to any standard lighting on the car such as hazard lights. Often, they are used along with a siren (or occasionally sirens) in order to increase their effectiveness. In many jurisdictions, the use of these lights may afford the user specific legal powers, and may place requirements on other road users to behave differently, such as compelling them to pull to the side of the road and yield right of way so the emergency vehicle may proceed through unimpeded.

Laws regarding and restricting the use of these lights vary widely among jurisdictions, and in some areas non-emergency vehicles (e.g. school buses) and semi-emergency vehicles (e.g. tow trucks) may be permitted to use similar lights. These non-and semi-emergency lights are also discussed here. Research into the usefulness and potential dangers of these lights is also presented.

Emergency vehicle lighting is a sub-type of emergency vehicle equipment.


Equipment most commonly refers to a set of tools or other objects commonly used to achieve a particular objective. Different jobs require different kinds of equipment.

FBI Academy

The FBI Academy is the Federal Bureau of Investigation's law enforcement training and research center located near the town of Quantico in Stafford County, Virginia. Operated by the Bureau's Training Division, it was first opened for use in 1972 on 385 acres (156 ha) of woodland, which is not available for public tours.

In addition to training new FBI agents at the facility, the Training Division also instructs special agents, intelligence analysts, law enforcement officers, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and foreign partners. The Academy provides several training programs, including Firearms, Hogan's Alley (a training complex simulating a small town), Tactical and Emergency Vehicle Operations Center (TEVOC), Survival Skills, and Law Enforcement Executive Development.The academy occupies 547 acres (221 ha) within Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Fire engine red

Fire engine red is an informal name for an intense, bright red commonly used on emergency vehicles in some English-speaking countries on fire service vehicles. There is no unique shade, although different fire services may have a required specification. The color has long been used, although not by all fire vehicles.

H1 lamp

The H1 is a halogen lamp designed for use in automotive headlamps and fog and driving lamps. It has also been widely applied in emergency vehicle lights.

Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Police (ISP) is the state police force of Illinois. Officially established in 1922, the Illinois State Police have over 3,000 personnel and 21 districts. The main facilities of the Illinois State Police Academy, which were constructed in 1968, are located in Springfield. Prior to 1968, training was conducted at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. ISP also maintains the Illinois sex offender registry, administers the state's AMBER Alert program, and issues Illinois Firearm Owner Identification Cards (FOID) and Concealed Carry Licenses. The Illinois State Police is also responsible for driving and physically protecting the Governor of Illinois. In 2005, officers and duties of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services Police were merged into the Illinois State Police.

Intelligent transportation system

An intelligent transportation system (ITS) is an advanced application which aims to provide innovative services relating to different modes of transport and traffic management and enable users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated, and 'smarter' use of transport networks.

Some of these technologies include calling for emergency services when an accident occurs, using cameras to enforce traffic laws or signs that mark speed limit changes depending on conditions.

Although ITS may refer to all modes of transport, the directive of the European Union 2010/40/EU, made on July 7 2010, defined ITS as systems in which information and communication technologies are applied in the field of road transport, including infrastructure, vehicles and users, and in traffic management and mobility management, as well as for interfaces with other modes of transport. ITS may improve the efficiency of transport in a number of situations, i.e. road transport, traffic management, mobility, etc.

Paul Elliman

Paul Elliman (1961) is a British artist and designer based in London. His work combines an interest in typography and the human voice, often referring to forms of audio signage that mediate a relationship between them. His typeface Found Fount (aka Bits) is an ongoing collection of found ‘typography’ drawn from objects and industrial debris in which no letter-form is repeated.

Elliman's work has addressed the instrumentalisation of the human voice as a kind of typography, engaging the voice in many of its social and technological guises, as well as imitating other languages and random sounds of the city including the non-verbal messages of emergency vehicle sirens, radio transmissions and the muted acoustics of architectural spaces.

He has exhibited in the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Tate Modern in London, the New Museum and Moma (Ecstatic Alphabets, 2012) in New York, APAP in Anyang, South Korea, and Kunsthalle Basel. In 2009 his project "Sirens Taken for Wonders" was commissioned for the New York biennial Performa09, and took the form of a radio discussion about the coded language of emergency vehicle sirens, as well as a series of siren-walks through the city.

In 2010 he contributed a series of whistled versions of bird song transcriptions by Olivier Messiaen for the show We Were Exuberant and Still Had Hope, at Marres Centre for Contemporary Art, Maastricht.Elliman is visiting critic at Yale School of Art, New Haven, and a thesis supervisor at the Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem, Netherlands.

Police car

A police car (also called a police cruiser, patrol car, cop car, prowler, squad car, radio car, or radio motor patrol (RMP) ) is a ground vehicle used by police for transportation during patrols and to enable them to respond to incidents and chases. Typical uses of a police car include transporting officers so they can reach the scene of an incident quickly, transporting and temporarily detaining suspects in the back seats, as a location to use their police radio or laptop or to patrol an area, all while providing a visible deterrent to crime. Some police cars are specially adapted for certain locations (e.g. traffic duty on busy roads) or for certain operations (e.g. to transport police dogs or bomb squads). Police cars typically have rooftop flashing lights, a siren, and emblems or markings indicating that the vehicle is a police car. Some police cars may have reinforced bumpers and alley lights, for illuminating darkened alleys.

Terms for police cars include area car and patrol car. In some places, a police car may also be informally known as a cop car, a black and white, a cherry top, a gumball machine, a jam sandwich or panda car. Depending on the configuration of the emergency lights and livery, a police car may be considered a marked or unmarked unit.


A ride-along is an arrangement for a civilian to spend a shift in the passenger seat of an emergency vehicle, observing the work day of a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic.

Ride-alongs are offered by many police departments around the world. There is a minimum age to participate in a ride-along. Depending on the department, it is often somewhere between the ages of 12 and 18. When participation of those under 18 is permitted, consent from a parent or legal guardian may be required. Those with criminal records or problems on previous ride-alongs may also be barred from participation. The most common form of ride-alongs are Law Enforcement Explorers, Auxiliary or Volunteer Police officers and participants in Citizen's Police Academy programs.

People go on ride-alongs for various reasons. These include interest in a future career in law enforcement, personal interest in law enforcement officers without such a career, journalists wishing to write reports, and those interested in community relations. Some emergency departments require dispatchers to go on ride-alongs so they can get a first-hand feel for the area they are responsible for. Regardless of the reason, all citizens who meet the department's eligibility requirements are generally welcome on a ride-along.

The television show Cops is made with a variety of police ride-alongs put into a half-hour segment.

Rumbler siren

A Rumbler siren is a type of emergency vehicle siren used primarily in the United States. Developed in 2007 by Federal Signal Corporation, and sounding at a low-frequency level, it is designed to be heard by motorists who may otherwise be unable to hear high-frequency sirens due to ambient noise, such as urban traffic.

Soyuz TMA-16

The Soyuz TMA-16 (Russian: Союз TMA-16) was a crewed flight to and from the International Space Station (ISS). It transported two members of the Expedition 21 crew and a Canadian entrepreneur from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the ISS. TMA-16 was the 103rd flight of a Soyuz spacecraft, the first flight launching in 1967. The launch of Soyuz TMA-16 marked the first time since 1969 that three Soyuz craft were in orbit simultaneously.

Guy Laliberté, founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, was a spaceflight participant aboard TMA-16 during its flight to the ISS, paying approximately US$35 million for his seat through the American firm Space Adventures. He returned on board the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft left as an emergency vehicle during that previous flight. The Soyuz TMA-16 flight spacecraft flew back to Earth with only two crew members.

Traffic signal preemption

Traffic signal preemption (also called traffic signal prioritization) is a type of system that allows the normal operation of traffic lights to be preempted. The most common use of these systems is to manipulate traffic signals in the path of an emergency vehicle, halting conflicting traffic and allowing the emergency vehicle right-of-way, to help reduce response times and enhance traffic safety. Signal preemption can also be used by light-rail and bus rapid transit systems to allow public transportation priority access through intersections, or by railroad systems at crossings to prevent collisions.


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