Emergency service drivers certified to higher RSA standards

A total of 2,384 emergency service drivers have been certified to the higher Emergency Services Driving Standard (ESDS) since 2014.

The figures were revealed to mark the fifth anniversary of the introduction of ESDS at an event in the Dublin Fire Brigade Training Facility in Marino Dublin.

ESDS is a voluntary driving standard for emergency services drivers and was introduced by the RSA as an action in the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020. The standard, the first of its kind in Europe, was developed in response to a need identified by many emergency service professionals for training and management of driving in emergency response situations.

Photo: Pat Flynn via ‘Emergency Services Clare’ on Facebook

The standard incorporates three levels of training for emergency drivers, focused on building driving competence, managing stress and developing self-awareness about the impact of their driving on other road users. Drivers who undertake ESDS training are assessed and certified once they achieve the relevant standard.

There are three levels of the Emergency Services Driving Standard.

  1. ESD Level 1 is the entry level and sets out the training, learning and assessment that will produce competent and responsible emergency service drivers.
  2. ESD Level 2 describes the training, learning and assessment for emergency service drivers and includes the principles and skills set of ‘Roadcraft’. ‘Roadcraft’ is a recognised system of vehicle control in the training for emergency service drivers that develops a methodical and systematic approach to driving. It increases safety by giving the driver more time to react in complex situations as they have a greater awareness and ability to anticipate hazards.
  3. ESD Level 3 refers only to services who by law can drive using blue lights and sirens in emergency response situations when this does not endanger the safety of other road users. An example of this is when an emergency services vehicle exceeds the statutory speed limit. This applies only to emergency services specified in Section 87 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 – An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Services. This level sets out a series of principles and response tactics, compatible with Roadcraft and focus on the driver’s attitude towards emergency response driving. Creating correct behaviour and a responsible attitude to driving skills greatly reduces the risks associated with emergency response driving.

Speaking at DFB’s Training facility in Marino, the RSA’s Chief Executive Officer Moyagh Murdock said “A significant feature of the development of ESDS is that it was a collaborative affair. While the RSA was the lead agency, huge commitment from An Garda Síochána, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, the Army, the Prison Service and several other bodies made it a reality. Importantly also the real lived experience of drivers who drive emergency vehicles was essential in helping to create and develop the ESDS programme. I look forward to the standard being adopted by all emergency services in the public and private sector in Ireland.”

Development of the standard was led by the RSA and included many of the ‘blue light’ Principal Response Agencies and the Voluntary Emergency Services. The Irish Defence Forces and Irish Prison Service are also included in the standards.

Superintendent Eddie Golden, Roads Policing Unit at An Garda Síochána said: “My colleagues are frequently required to drive in difficult and demanding situations where an incorrect decision could have serious implications for themselves or other road users, particularly in the area of response driving. Frequently drivers tell me about the difference ESDS training has made to the way they go about their work.  It is our ambition to include ESDS training for all frontline Gardaí tasked with driving our vehicles.”

The National Directorate for Fire & Emergency Management, The Chief Fire Officers’ Association and the National Ambulance Service are involved in developing the standards.

Dave Carroll, Chairman Chief Fire Officers’ Association, “The Chief Fire Officers Association are pleased to note our satisfaction with the standards of service offered to us through the ESDS initiative.  The work done by ESDS has significantly increased driver awareness of road safety in respect of driving emergency service vehicle. The ESDS Training Workshops have improved our ‘trainers’ approach and the concept by the RSA of a collaborative approach and cross agency engagement in the development of ESDS has been paramount in its success to date.”

Eoin Cullen, Operations Manager, Medicall Ambulance Service, said: “We rolled out ESDS training for all our drivers mainly for the safety benefits. However, we are also seeing other significant benefits including lower fuel bills, less wear and tear on our expensive vehicles and lower insurance premiums. ESDS training has been a win all round for my organisation and we continue to encourage emergency services personnel to take the time and make the investment to keep themselves and the public safe.”

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