Make it stop! Enough with the nighttime sirens already

Dear Editor

I am a resident of New Westminster, as well as senior citizen, having spent over 10 years in the New Westminster civic area. I have noted over the last few months, an exponential increase in the number of emergency vehicle sirens sounding at all hours of the day and night. This seems to be an increase both in the frequency, in the sound decibels, and in the number of simultaneous vehicles called out for specific incidences.

As city demographics get more crowded in our urban areas and the pace of life seems to increase, it is understandable that emergency vehicles are needed for actual “emergency” situations. However, I have noted an abundance of situations where a number of emergency vehicles and departments are deployed for what appears to be non-emergency situations: i.e. dealing with homeless people on street-corners … or dealing with geriatrics with minor emergencies.

Basically what it amounts to is this: we, the citizens and taxpayers of this region, who both voted you into office and fund your paycheques, are being subject to an over-the-top number and intensity of emergency calls in vehicles which are questionably “overkill” for non-emergency situations. Not only is this an extreme form of noise pollution, it wakes people up in the middle of the night in residential areas; people who need to work, look after families or attend to their own health issues.

Often times, I hear literally dozens of sirens going at all hours of the night, and at extremely high decibels … for what? Homeless people on street-corners? Drunks sleeping under a bush? Missing cats lost in trees? I mean, really … I don’t read about any fires, any mass murders, any car crashes, any robberies, and earthquakes or tidal waves …. so what is going on? Are you playing war games in the middle of the night?  Who is calling out these vehicles, for what purpose, and why do they need screaming sirens that sound like World War III to deal with …what?

This absolute mayhem, night and day, is making New Westminster an unlivable city.

Are you not  answerable to us, the taxpayers who elected you? And if you are, here are my questions: why have the emergency sirens increased exponentially over the last few months? Are there actually more emergencies … or are emergency vehicles and crews being called out for non-emergency situations? Can we the taxpayers, audit your list of so-called “emergencies” so we can see what you are doing and where our tax money is going?

And who rates situations as “emergency” or “non-emergency”…? Do you really need a police car, an ambulance and a fire engine to deal with a harmless, homeless individual standing on a street-corner? Why are you wasting our taxpayer dollars fighting non-existent “crimes” or non-emergency situations, and pissing off the entire city who are kept wide awake at night because of unnecessary deployment of emergency personnel? Are you preparing for World War III ?

I am a taxpayer, a law-abiding citizen, and a resident of a wonderful city that doesn’t deserve to be wrecked by half-baked administrative calls that send out crews to put out “invisible fires”. 

Here’s the clincher: I recall, several years ago, being stuck in heavy rush-hour traffic. An unmarked police-car had apparently been called to an emergency, and was maneuvering his way through the knotted-up traffic - at a fairly high speed. This officer had his flashing lights on, and would give a short “toot” of his digital siren as he approached an area of congestion. The cars would respond and give way, and he would continue, silently - in ‘stealth’ mode – to the next area of congestion.

Compare this strategic and effective manoeuvre to our ambulances and fire-engines lumbering along at at fraction of this speed, at 3 in the morning when there’s no traffic around, blasting their idiotic “air-raid” sirens at decibels that can be heard a mile away. For what purpose? To let us all know that you’re wasting our tax money waking us up with overkill responses to “questionable” emergencies?

Sorry, but I don’t “buy” this, that there are situations arising so frequently in the middle of the night that require such over-the-top drama. We have the technology and you have the driving skills to do your job without waking up the whole city. I am also bringing into question your deployment of emergency personnel for situations that do not require such a response.

Please address this situation before it drives residents away and turns the city into a overblown Hollywood movie. Let’s get real.

Gary Bandzmer, New Westminster

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