Nfld. & Labrador

Rumble in the streets: Corner Brook ambulance vibrates to get motorists' attention

One of Western Health's ambulances is now equipped with a Whelen Howler that creates a low frequency vibration.

Vibrating siren shakes drivers, warns of oncoming ambulance

Paramedics say the vibration really works and vehicles move out of the way faster. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Corner Brook streets rumble with the sound of vibration. One of Western Health's ambulances is now equipped with a Whelen Howler that creates a low frequency vibration. 

It's a tool to make sure drivers get out of the way of an oncoming ambulance.

"The idea and the science behind it is it pushes the frequency out into other vehicles," said David Buckle, regional director of paramedicine and medical transport with Western Health. 

"Vehicles are built now to be very quiet. You want to be able to ride like you are in your living room. So you're in your living room with your stereo on and you are tuned out to the ambulance. This allows us to penetrate that vehicle and allows us to be heard better." 

Louder and lower

The siren is loud and shakes the ground. It's a much lower sounding siren, which makes it stand out from fire trucks or police cars. It rattles you and you can feel it in your chest. 

"That sound is hard to ignore. When that turns on, you know it's there," said Buckle. 

Western Health brought in the new ambulance about a year ago. 

More to come

It's a lot safer for patients and paramedics, because it has better reflection tape, infrared cameras to detect moose, four-wheel drive and forward facing seats for the paramedics.  

It costs about $190,000, while a standard ambulance is about $120,000.

Western Health plans on buying another ambulance with the special siren and safety features in the coming year.