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LEDs and the Sustainable Future of Emergency Response


By Chris Dallmann

Emergency lights may not get the credit they deserve; but without them, the critical role of emergency response would be severely challenged. In an emergency sector where every second counts, the safety of lives and properties might solely hinge on the arrival time of first responders. This, in turn, is dependent on how quickly they are able to navigate through traffic and other obstacles. This is where the importance of emergency lights comes to play.

These lights help protect the lives of the brave men and women of the first responders’ community: people who have dedicated their own lives and safety to the general good of the world we live in. They constantly drive at high rates of speed and through intersections, putting not only their lives in danger, but those of the general members of the public as well.

In today’s world, however, lighting-emitting diode (LED) lights are seen as the likeliest option in order to achieve a sustainable future for emergency response. This is especially true because, as we look into reducing negative impacts on the environment, LED lights are an example of how one does not need to compromise on being environmentally friendly in hopes of trying to achieve better results.

Cost-to-life ratio

While some may be put off by the cost that comes with LED lights, their amazing cost-to-life ratio makes them a financially savvy purchase. The lifespan of LED emergency lights often far exceeds other traditional and older models in the emergency response community. Having no filaments, LED lights are long-lasting and do not burn out. In fact, LED Hideaway strobes have a life expectancy of up to a staggering 100,000 hours, which in comparison, dwarfs those of incandescent bulbs with an expectancy of a measly 2,000 hours of operational life. This amazing operational life span translates to about 11 years of continuous, non-stop operation or about 20 years when operated to the tune of eight hours a day. This statistics only prove that they will mostly outlast the emergency vehicles on which they are used.

So, the various departments of government requiring emergency lighting for their fleet of vehicles can save a lot on their budgets for emergency lights, and instead, channel the resources elsewhere. This can only guarantee the sustainability of emergency response through a significant reduction in expenditure.

Low energy consumption

Energy consumption is very crucial to sustainability. When products use too much electricity, it increases the carbon footprint and, in turn, harms the environment. A regular LED light bulb can reduce energy consumption by up to 80 percent as compared to other types of lighting such as halogen or incandescent bulbs. This can easily be applied to LED emergency lights, and if every emergency vehicle switches to LED lights, the world will see a significant dip in energy consumption for lighting alone.

According to a studies conducted by the U.S Department of Energy, general LEDs installed in the year 2012 saved around $675 million in energy costs. The study further went on to reveal that if every American replaced one conventional light bulb with an LED, the energy savings could light an estimated 2.5 million homes. That’s the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 800,000 cars. Therefore, LED lighting is not only a financially sensible option in the world of emergency response; its ability to reduce the impact on the environment makes it an obvious choice.

Efficiency and effectiveness

The choice of LEDs should be straightforward if we expect the sustainability of emergency response. Aside from the fact that they consume less energy, they also efficiently utilize the low amounts of energy that they consume. Much unlike incandescent bulbs that release about 90 percent of energy they consume in the form of heat, LEDs generate little to no heat. They also contain no mercury, a key concern with compact fluorescent bulbs.

However, all of these qualities do not make LEDs less inferior than their older and traditional counterparts. In fact, they are more durable, require little to no maintenance and illuminate much brighter. Even in sunlight, the luminescence of LED emergency lights can still be seen from a distance. This makes LED lights highly efficient despite being compact, less heavy and requiring less energy. Whether it is to announce the arrival of an emergency vehicle or to indicate its presence at a scene, LED lights leave much less carbon footprints, making it a solid candidate for the sustainable future of emergency response.

Overall, the critical role which emergency response and first responders provide can be sustained and even improved if we continue the current trend of tilting towards the path of LEDs. Asides emergency response alone, the U.S Department of Energy estimates that switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent, and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions. The choice is ours to make.

Image credit: Flickr/David Lewis

Image credit: Flickr/Steve Lyon

Chris Dallmann is the CEO of Extreme Tactical Dynamics and for many years, he has been an advocate for the general well-being of first responders and the emergency response community. This he does through the provision of quality and affordable gears such as police lights and emergency lights.

3p Contributor

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