Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Sunday, November 25, 2007


No not the sort that Odysseus dealt with in Homer's excellent poem. Rather the conventional sort that shriek forth from various emergency vehicles as they blast forth in their vigorous attempt to reach the downtrodden.

I live in a city with some 40,000 people. And while I've not conducted a scientific hypothesis regarding their frequency I'd hazard to say that some ten or more
outbursts of emergency "get outta the way" either pass directly by or within hearing distance of my humble abode on a daily basis. Here's the hitch, as it were.

I'd spent four months in Tokyo (well, I lived in Ichikawa but that's a stones toss across a river from the capital plus I schooled in Shinjuku plus I'd spent some time in Japan before) and very rarely did I hear a siren. Fact is I can only recall being awakened by the occasional motorcycle gang, whose members for whatever reason, maintain something of a spastic control over the muscles in their wrists. The end result is a cacophany of "braaht, braht, braaaahhhhht" at some two o'clock in the morning. But very few sirens.

Which begs the question. Or, rather, consideration. How can a megalopolis of some 12 million people maintain a lower quotient of emergency activity than a virtual hamlet (by comparison) of 40,000? Answer is, they cannot. There's simply no way Tokyo's crime (as low as it is) is less than that of Burlington Vermont. Furthermore I find it impossible that everyday emergency response is more here than there.

Which lends me thus: Either I'm completely daft or the Japanese (at least within the Kanto region; or the Kansai for that matter) maintain very quiet EMS vehicles.

Believe it or not this has been a subject of consideration for me and mine for some time now. And some of said debate members hail from the Nihon.

So what gives?

Addendum: the above pictured is a Nissan Skyline GTR or, tsukachi (I think), as it were. A magnificent automotive breed. You will, quite likely, not get away.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

I always suspected that the whole point of the siren (in Israel too) is to give the perps an advance warning so the cops will not have to, you know...

But then, I am that cynical ;-)

BTW, thanks for the link, reciprocated.

Jay@Soob said...

Hey snoop! Your welcome and you might be on to something there.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

In the '60's when I lived in Japan US Air Force emergency vehicles were not supposed to use their sirens because American sirens sounded like WWII Japanese air raid sirens and freaked out the JN's.

I wonder if that is why European emergency vehicles go NUR-nee NUR-nee.

Jay@Soob said...

Certainly makes sense, doesn't it.

60's eh? Depending on which end of the sixties you might well be a veteran of either the Korean or Vietnam war (or both?) I'm not going to try and guess which branch you served under but I'll hazard a guess as to where in Japan your deployment was. Okinawa?

Your second point raises an interesting issue. Do they go Nur-nee, Nur-nee or Nee-nur, Nee-nur. Further, who decides the prevalence of the Nee over the Nur or vice versa? Ah, yes the mysteries of the modern day siren!

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Tachikawa AB west of Tokyo, AF brat. Went Army in 1978.

In Germany in the 80's the Polizei definitely went NUR-nee, but there may be countries where they go NEE-nur.

G said...

Jay, the answer may be geographic rather than criminal or population based.

You may live near a Police, fire or ambulance station. Hence why you'd here them with higher frequency because a lot of the time they'd be leaving the station with lights and sirens for urgent calls for service. Perhaps check your local city maps to check if that is the case? Or if it isn't your place may near a main road used to connect suburbs or something. So they'd travel that route a lot.

The point of the sirens is usually for public safety rather to give advance notice to offenders. If the situation warrants it, like for an offender still on scene, the attending coppers may exercise their own initiative and turn off their sirens.

G said...

that'd be hear them, not here them. Or perhaps you have some crazy sensory perception that allows to you geolocate objects through your hearing.

Jay@Soob said...

"Or perhaps you have some crazy sensory perception that allows to you geolocate objects through your hearing."

If I did I'd be on an island with Jessica Alba, a massive amount of sports cars and a huge mound of colorless leaflets that should have been dollars. Green, sadly, doesn't make a sound.