Ambulance siren sounds

A review in Annals of Emergency Medicine found some studies claiming the European high-low siren was the best, others claiming it was the worst, two professing to find no difference between sounds, and one commentator recommending different sounds for different conditions. That raises a key question. Partly, as you suggest, that's to get drivers' attention, which is more of a challenge than it used to be what with car stereos, ubiquitous air conditioning and rolled-up windows , yammering GPS units, iPods, cellphones, and so on.

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Still, you have to wonder whether sirens in many instances are worth the trouble.

Emergency drivers will often cycle through the siren types if civilians don't move out of the way immediately. That raises a key question. Moreover, a complex sound is easier to hear over background noise than a single tone. A lot of experts think they don't. Why do emergency vehicles have different siren sounds?

Why do emergency vehicles have different siren sounds?

More commonly, though, the idea is to mix up the sounds. Best Of The Bay. The International Encyclopedia of Ergonomics and Human Factors says the most audible and localizable sounds are very high or very low frequencies, with low preferred, because high can be irritating. A review in Annals of Emergency Medicine found some studies claiming the European high-low siren was the best, others claiming it was the worst, two professing to find no difference between sounds, and one sounda recommending different sounds for different conditions.

Over the years I've noticed a variety of siren sounds for emergency vehicles. Do sirens do what they're supposed to do, namely get non-emergency traffic out of the way without getting people hurt or killed in the process?

Two sounrs reliably found in just about all U. Varietywise I don't know that siren sounds are in the same league as ice cream flavors, or, for that matter, the olive department at Whole Foods, but there are more than there used to be.

Statistically, most ambulance crashes happen at intersections while the vehicle is running "hot — i.

Siren use policy varies. Sirens often confuse people.

Ambulance Siren Sounds

The latest in siren technology is the Rumbler, which uses ultralow frequencies as advocated above, perhaps on the theory that if you can't reach drivers through their ears, maybe you'll get their attention if they puke. They don't penetrate background noise very well; at busy urban intersections, they're only audible within 25 to 40 feet, and frequently it's hard to tell what direction the sound is coming from.

Sep 17, 5 AM. Good luck getting a straight answer. Studies show ambulances typically make it to their destinations less than a minute faster with the aid of the siren, which is rarely enough to do anything medically useful.

Is it true siren sounds ambluance to be changed periodically, particularly in urban areas, to prevent drivers from getting used to a particular sound and not paying attention? Another problem is what emergency-response expert Jeff Clawson calls the wake effect — drivers collide with each other or stationary objects while trying to get out of an emergency vehicle's way.

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A Department of Transportation study concluded that "sirens will never become an effective warning device — and that was inwhen drivers had fewer distractions. Partly, as you suggest, that's to get drivers' attention, which is more of a challenge than it used to be what with car stereos, ubiquitous air conditioning and rolled-up windowsyammering GPS units, iPods, cellphones, and so on.

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So which of these marginally effective siren sounds is best? Beyond that, the experts are pretty useless. Other common sounds include 3. On top of that, several studies have concluded that sirens deafen emergency personnel and cause driver stress and disorientation, doubtless leading to more accidents. Of course, vehicles running cold are also less likely to speed, drive on the wrong side of the road, or run red lights, so you'd expect more sirrn in emergency mode than in the McDonald's parking lot.

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Although I have to think a gut-buzzing low vibration could be plenty disconcerting. Some jurisdictions, such as Hawaii and California, limit the permissible siren sounds to the wail and yelp; Hawaii further specifies that the wail is to be used by police for routine emergencies with the yelp reserved for traffic offenders oblivious to everything else.

The main reason for multiple sounds, though, is a little different and frankly a lot more urgent:

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