The Fourth Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined that, although defendant driver was a volunteer ambulance driver responding to a call at the time of the accident, defendant was driving his own personal pickup truck which did not qualify as an emergency vehicle. Therefore the ordinary negligence, not the “reckless disregard,” standard applied to the defendant:
We agree with plaintiff, however, that he met his initial burden on his cross motion of establishing that defendant was not operating an “authorized emergency vehicle” at the time of the accident and thus that the reckless disregard standard of care does not apply. ” ‘[T]he reckless disregard standard of care in Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104 (e) . . . applies when a driver of an authorized emergency vehicle involved in an emergency operation engages in the specific conduct exempted from the rules of the road by Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104 (b)’ ” … . …
… [A]t the time of the accident, defendant was driving his personally-owned vehicle, which was not affiliated with Eden Emergency … . The vehicle also did not comply with Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104 (c), which requires authorized emergency vehicles to be equipped with “at least one red light.” Moreover, at the time of the accident, defendant’s vehicle was not being “operated by” Eden Emergency because, while defendant was a volunteer with Eden Emergency, he was not on call at the time of the incident … . Further, defendant did not qualify as an ambulance service. Defendant was not an “individual . . . engaged in providing emergency medical care and the transportation of sick or injured persons” (Public Health Law § 3001 ). We also note that defendant was not an emergency medical technician … . Spence v Kitchens, 2022 NY Slip Op 06355, Fourth Dept 11-10-22
Practice Point: Here defendant was a volunteer ambulance driver who was responding to a call when the traffic accident occurred. Defendant was driving his own pickup truck, was not “on call” for the ambulance service, was not engaged in emergency care and was not a medical technician. Defendant’s truck was not an “authorized emergency vehicle.” Therefore the “reckless disregard” standard of care for emergency vehicles did not apply.