Responding to Emergencies

By Khalid Khattak

While I was about to start writing this post, I heard a siren. Despite spending over two months in Washington DC, I am unable to distinguish between siren of an ambulance and a fire truck.

 The fire trucks and ambulances running with lights and sirens are common in Washington. Almost every day when I go to Farragut Square to have my lunch from the food trucks, I listen for this sound and many times see fire trucks and ambulances running down K Street.

Each time I have received a call from the same friend from Pakistan there were sirens from an ambulance or a fire truck or both. He could not ignore it and one day he asked me “Why there is always siren whenever I call you?”

This question prompted me to recall my first ever trip to the United States in 2011 when I had asked the same question to one of my friends who works for a Pakistani news channel here in the U.S. I still believe his answer was right. “You know, in the U.S., they have a very strong mechanism to detect fires and emergency response. They don’t take a risk and immediately rush to the spot whenever alerted.”

In Pakistan a couple of weeks back fire erupted in a building near my office and unfortunately over 20 people lost their lives. Over the years the city where I live, Lahore, unlike many other cities of Pakistan has been witnessing relatively improved emergency response but still, a lot needs to be done especially after this unfortunate incident.   

Another thing I noticed here in D.C. is abundant fire hydrants and almost all of these having reflective tape, of course for easy identification during night time.

Washington has very strict rules for parking near these fire hydrants and I do believe the other states would have strict laws as well.

The beauty is that there are not just laws but they are also implemented which we badly miss in Pakistan. We do have laws but what we lack is implementation which is either totally missing or impartial and unfair in most of the cases.