HONOLULU (KHON2) — These days ambulance sirens may not be enough to get the attention of drivers to get out of the way. So EMS is resorting to a different type of sound to get their attention, and ultimately save lives.

With sirens blasting at about 120 decibels, EMS said there are times when drivers are still unaware that an ambulance is approaching.

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“A lot of the cars now, they’re built to kind of drown out the road sounds for consumers. You want that nice quiet ride in your car but unfortunately, that blocks out our sirens a little bit,” said Sunny Johnson, EMS Paramedic Supervisor.

That’s why many of the ambulances are equipped with The Howler, a low-frequency vibrating sound, designed to make you feel as well as hear an ambulance behind you.

“We use it pretty frequently specially when there’s heavy traffic like at a stoplight, maybe heavy traffic on the freeway, when people just can’t quite catch our regular sirens,” said Johnson.

Johnson points out how critical it is for drivers to move to the side when EMS is on a call or transporting a patient.

“Seconds can count in an emergency situation. We’re either trying to get to a call, trying to get to help somebody, or we’re transporting somebody to the hospital,” she said.

But that’s not the only reason. In many cases a paramedic is treating a patient in the ambulance.

“So the paramedic may be moving around, and the faster cars can move to the side, the easier it is for the ambulance to go straight through traffic instead of having to weave through and possibly jarring the paramedic in the back of the ambulance,” said Johnson.

So how effective is it? We jumped in Mahina Siangco’s car with her stereo blasting, and asked Johnson to turn The Howler on. She says it does grab your attention.

“Oh definitely, yes, no matter how loud your stereo is or even how loud your bass is, you can still hear it and feel it,” she said.

As far as my experience, I could barely hear the siren, but I did feel the vibration. So if you are driving around with the stereo super loud and you feel that vibration, look around for an ambulance.

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Johnson said most of the ambulances are equipped with the Howler, and new ones will have them installed.