Governor Rick Snyder today signed legislation authorizing volunteer members of specialized rescue teams to equip their personal vehicles with flashing lights and sirens so they may exercise certain driving privileges when responding to emergencies, a change in law that the governor said will help reduce response times and help save lives.
Volunteer firefighters are already allowed to equip their vehicles with emergency equipment. With this change, other volunteer rescuers with specialized training such as water and ice water rescue will be able to exceed the posted speed limit, disobey traffic signals and drive against traffic while responding to an emergency call as long as this is done safely and with the proper emergency equipment activated.
“There are many communities across our state that rely on volunteer emergency responders. By allowing more volunteer rescuers to equip their vehicles with emergency equipment, we will help reduce response times and also help keep rescuers safe by alerting other drivers to pull over,” the governor said.
Volunteer rescuers may be authorized by a sheriff, fire chief or director of the Michigan State Police. To be authorized, volunteers must have training in a specialized discipline such as SCUBA underwater rescue, and they must be certified at a level higher than that of a medical first responder. Volunteer rescuers must also have safe driver training or commensurate experience.
House Bill 4642, sponsored by state Rep. Ed McBroom, is now Public Act 231 of 2011. A detailed description of the bill may be found online at www.legislature.mi.gov.