Sheryl Sandberg’s Comments On Moving Over For Ambulances Should Make You Realize How Vital Those Few Seconds Are

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and a prominent advocate for women in the workplace, wrote a touching tribute to her late husband and SurveyMonkey chief executive Dave Goldberg on Wednesday. It was the end of the 30-day period of mourning dictated by Judaism, and Sandberg said she wanted to share some of the heartbreaking and important lessons she learned about grief and love. But some of the lessons Sandberg shared were more practical. For example, Sandberg said people need to move for ambulances, and described her trip to the hospital with her husband as "unbearably slow," according to her Facebook post.

She said that though her family learned later that Goldberg died immediately from a fall off of a treadmill, she didn't know that in the ambulance. She said she still hates "every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass." She called for everyone to move out of the way, because "someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it."

And her words don't echo false worries. People often die in ambulances as a result of traffic delays in large cities around the world. In December, protesters stalled traffic in Boston. And the traffic stalled ambulances, which kept first responders from being able to reach someone who suffered a heart attack, according to Universal Hub. In June, a 2-year-old girl in India was rushed to the hospital with low blood pressure and difficulty breathing. It took the ambulance two and a half hours to reach the hospital — which was nine miles from her home — and she was pronounced dead on arrival, according to the Times of India.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Most states in the U.S. have laws that require drivers to pull over and stop to let an ambulance pass. Failure to pull over to the right side of the road for an oncoming emergency vehicle often results in a citation and a fine in most states. People who do not pull over are not only frustrating to EMTs driving emergency vehicles but also potentially hindering a fatally sick or hurt person from getting the care they need.

On the question-and-answer forum Quora, one user asked if cars should pull over if an ambulance is coming toward you in an opposite lane. Ross Cohen, a user whose profile says he is an EMT, said pulling over and stopping is the best course of action for other drivers' safety as well as the well being of the person in the ambulance:

Our goal is to bypass traffic as quickly as possible to potentially save a life. The challenge is that driving to an emergency through heavy traffic with lights and sirens can be dangerous. Stopping completely eliminates that danger. If everyone on the road stops, we can zoom by, safely and efficiently. If some cars keep moving, even slowly, it can slow us down. More cars moving creates more variables; it reduces our choices for avenues of travel and it forces us to drive much more cautiously. Both have the effect of slowing down response time, which in a true emergency, can cost someone their life.

Image: Getty Images