on blue lights in the snow

Today I was driving around the Peaks my job means I travel from village to village to see people and I was enjoying the snowy landscape which was amazing and beautiful all around me.   The snow gave the air that magical brightness and the trees were heavy with icicles.  The sheep on either side of the road were trying to nudge through the white blanket that had been cast over the green grass beneath. It was a winter scene straight from a Christmas card or a tourist postcard.

One of the roads I was on several times today is a main road joining the towns to the north of my home town.  It is a very busy single carriageway road, used by quarry lorries, buses and lots of vans and trucks, as well as many cars, that all meander their way through the Peaks towards the North or the South.  This road winds from many points which means it is possible to see far ahead into the distance as it twists and bends.

Along the road the water board have set up temporary traffic lights to manage the traffic while they dig up pipes, to keep the work force safe.  As always the vehicles back up quickly once the lights turn to red and I was about to join my place at the back of queue when I noticed in the distance the familiar bright blue lights of an emergency vehicle approaching on the other side of the road.  I was able to watch as, one by one, all the drivers, in cars, in trucks and in buses moved ever so slightly to make sure that the blue lights had a swift and safe journey through the queue.  Eventually the ambulance arrived at the lights and all the traffic stayed absolutely still, waiting until they had cleared the hold up and was off on the way to whoever needed them.

This is something that happens all the time, it is not unusual.  This area has a lot of road accidents, and the nearest casualty department is many miles away.  Today, watching from a stationary position, I had time to think about what might be happening.  Was there someone in the back of the ambulance who was maybe fighting for life?  Perhaps it was a Mum about to bring a new baby into the world, or someone urgently needing the attention and skills offered by our glorious national health service.  Whoever was in there, whatever the emergency I hope all was well.

After they passed through the lights it was our turn to move and as I drove on towards the office I was thinking about what it is like to be on your own in a car.  I always have the radio or music on when I am driving, I like the warm air to blast at both my feet and my hands and always feel very cosy and comfortable within my little car.  I was minded to think about something I read years ago, about how on a motorcycle you are in the picture of a road, whereas in a car you are looking out at it through glass and by definition are separate from it.  This made me think again of other drivers, the truckers who are home from home in their cabs,  the quarry wagons, high above the cars as they carry loads of rock and stone.  the bus drivers, taking yet more passengers safely from place to place, and I got a real sense of how many individual people are driving along the highway.

How amazing then, that within this isolation, each and every driver responded to the blue lights of an emergency. They all as one without fuss or trouble made the path easy for the emergency services.  So many individuals working as a whole, reacting to the universal signal of fear and danger, the understanding that this one vehicle needed to get through and as one they moved to make sure this happened.

I got to thinking about  the underlying motivation for this, is it that one day, any one of us may be the passenger needing the help and skill of the ambulance service.  Whatever it is, it happened today, and it will no doubt happen again tomorrow.  May all our journeys be as uneventful as possible, but how lucky are we to know that if we need them, not only will our amazing ambulances get to us, every other driver on the road will play their part.

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