I am writing to draw attention to an issue I think has implications for the health of residents in the downtown area, as well as the livability in our city.
I refer to the ear-piercing noise of sirens emitted by emergency vehicles responding to 911 medical distress calls.
There have been a number of articles in the press during the past few years dealing with the effects of such noise exposure on the health of those hearing it, as well as on the general livability of the downtown residential areas.
A siren is a warning signal, meant to focus one’s attention on a threat. When we hear it, we have an unconscious fight-or-flight response, which raises our alertness level, the purpose being for us to take evasive action to survive.
However, when exposed to it on a downtown street where there is no personal threat, we have that same automatic response. Our body produces a squirt of adrenalin, which raises our heart rates and blood pressure. It’s not good for us.
I’m thrilled to see a real revitalization of Kamloops occurring through an increase in accommodation units under construction, which will lead to a higher population downtown and, hence, more amenities.
So, shouldn’t we be making an effort to improve the auditory landscape, as well as the physical one, for our residents?
Is there really a need for full siren volume on all calls? Every emergency call is not a life-threatening issue, a fact the dispatcher should be able to communicate to the crew. And what about after midnight, when flashers plus a “beep” at traffic lights should suffice?
Perhaps it’s overdue for Kamloops council to address this and create new, more ear-friendly siren protocols.