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New Ambulance Siren is So Effective, You can Feel It

November 13, 2008

An Oklahoma ambulance company will become the first ambulance service in the nation to use new Howler sirens for its fleet. The sirens are designed to emit low-frequency tones that penetrate objects within 200 feet—such as cars — to alert drivers, according to the Associated Press.

The Emergency Medical Services Authority has equipped one ambulance with the new siren and plans to have them installed on all 77 units in Oklahoma within six months.

Officials say the sirens are ideal for cutting through a sea of traffic. The sirens also give emergency responders another tool to let drivers know an ambulance is heading their way.

So far this year, EMSA vehicles have been involved in 16 intersection accidents, typically caused by an unyielding driver. Fifteen of those times, the ambulances were on a call, said EMSA spokeswoman Tina Wells.

At a Tuesday news conference where the new technology was demonstrated, two ambulances were parked near each other. A plastic stepladder with three glasses of liquid on top was placed in between the vehicles.

The ambulance without the Howler sounded its siren and produced its familiar wail. The Howler then produced booms at an earsplitting level.

Tulsa Police Officer Mike Avey, who has worked traffic accidents, said the siren will make intersections safer. “People are on their cell phones, people have $1,000 sound systems. You’re going to feel it.”

The new sirens cost less than $400 each, meaning the entire EMSA fleet can be outfitted for less than $40,000, Wells said.

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