Study objective: To determine whether ambulance transport time from the scene to the emergency department is faster with warning lights and siren than that without.
Design: In a convenience sample, transport times and routes of ambulances using lights and sirens were recorded by an observer. The time also was recorded by a paramedic who drove an ambulance without lights and siren over identical routes during simulated transports at the same time of day and on the same day of the week as the corresponding lights-and-siren transport.
Setting: An emergency medical service system in a city with a population of 46,000.
Participants: Emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
Results: Fifty transport times with lights and siren averaged 43.5 seconds faster than the transport times without lights and siren [t = 4.21, P = .0001].
Conclusion: In this setting, the 43.5-second mean time savings does not warrant the use of lights and siren during ambulance transport, except in rare situations or clinical circumstances.