Many Hoboken sounds are external


Excessive external ambulance noise lowers quality of life in Hoboken

14th Street Viaduct ambulances make too much noise in Hoboken NJ - Many Hoboken sounds are externalRemember that “Sounds of Hoboken” video I posted last week – depicting some typical daytime sounds, construction and other disruptive noises?

Well this one is for those of you that lay awake at night – perhaps in the warmer weather when your windows are open. And all throughout the night, you hear siren after siren – practically non-stop! You might say to yourself, “Hoboken is such a busy civil service city!”

Not exactly. On a typical weeknight – say, Mondays through Wednesdays – Hoboken itself is surprisingly quiet for a densely populated city. On those nights, radio chatter is very very light within the mile square – with the exception of an occasional fire call (usually false alarm), and other very sporadic EMS call. In fact, earlier this week – there may have been exactly one call between midnight at 6am!

I stressed “within the mile square” above – because a majority of the sirens we all hear citywide – are from ambulances coming in from surrounding cities – like Jersey City Heights, Union City, Weehawken and North Bergen. They’ll come in via the 14th Street Viaduct or over one of the two bridges on Park or Willow. It’s quite annoying, frankly.

Now as you know – in the next couple years – the 14th Street Viaduct is getting re-vamped. I bet one thing they’re not going to do – is consider how loud that elevated roadway is – and that when an ambulance comes screaming down the hill – that the ENTIRE CITY OF HOBOKEN can hear it. Like a loudspeaker amplifying the sounds.

A sound-dampening method has to be deployed to muffle the noise these sirens make all through the wee hours.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011 1:36 pm

We bought a device called a Sleep Mate which creates a steady low white noise that drowns out pretty much all outside noise at night. You turn it on before you go to bed and you won’t really notice the white noise itself after a day or two–it’s sort of a low frequency whooshing sound. We don’t hear the garbage trucks, drunks, etc. anymore. Well worth the $50 investment. You can buy it on Amazon:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 9:05 pm

What about those of us who lie awake at night thanks to drunken fools passing by our homes every Thursday through Sunday? Where’s our post?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 2:01 pm

@ 4th – Thank you for the respect. EMS workers often go unnoticed in the heirarchy of public service workers.

You bring up a very interesting point that’s been a national debate amongst EMS providers for years. What constitues a true emergency, thus warrenting the use of lights and sirens. Many, if not most, of the “emergencies” I went on during my career in the field were not true emergencies. Certain companies I’ve been worked on train their drivers to respond “cold” (w/o L&S) to calls based on the information provided by dispatch. Yet there are others that treat a “toe stubbing” as a matter of life or limb! 😯 This discussion is very pertinent in this town because of the shear volume of calls HVAC responds to on a yearly basis.

And I wouldn’t doubt your claim about “out of town” drivers. Some probably do get off on sticking to the yuppies. Just know that not all of us are like that 🙂

4th Ward Guardian
4th Ward Guardian
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 1:02 pm

I have great respect for all First Responders, especially the EMTs that save lives every day. I’m grateful Hoboken has a Volunteer Ambulance Service that helps keep costs low and understands the balance required for safety and the need to keep noise levels down. The serve us well because they ARE us. They live here and deserve our support. HOWEVER, with all due respect to xtreme it needs to be said most of these out-of-town ambulances couldn’t give two hoots about how much noise they make in Hoboken. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these West New York and Union City ambulance drivers actually get off on it. “Hey! Watch this yuppie in the crosswalk jump out of her skin! BBBBWWWOOOOP BBWWWWOOOOP!” The dirty little secret is most WNY and UC ambulances coming down the viaduct and up Willow (or through the 4th Ward via Paterson and 1st) to HUMC are carrying un-insured, non-critical patients using the HUMC Emergency Room as their Doctor’s office. If someone’s really injured and needs urgent care in WNY or UC they’re transported to Jersey City or North Bergen hospitals better equipped to handle trauma. There’s no need for West New York and Union City ambulances to be blaring their sirens in Hoboken to transport patients who don’t need urgent attention. Just because they’re in a hurry doesn’t mean they need to blow through intersections like the ambulance in the video. They do it down here in the southwest just like they… Read more »

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 12:29 pm

Designated Emergency Vehicles in this state are required to use both visual and audible warning devices when responding to an emergency or an acute care center. Emergency can be defined as a the chance of loss of life or limb. Failure to do so could put the ambulance driver at risk for a penalty should an accident occur.

Most ambulance operators (I was one for 8 years of my life, one being in this town) understand the noise pollution it causes and do their best to be courteous. However, if they come up to an intersection, don’t sound a siren and get broad sided by somebody not paying attention, they could be found at fault. When I used to drive in Hoboken (or any service for which I worked) I was careful not to go running around with my siren wailing unless it was absolutely necessary for the safety of myself or others.

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