A new campaign has been launched by Cornwall's emergency services following a spate of incidents in which motorists have hindered their vehicles with erratic driving and poor parking.

Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service (CFRCS), South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) and Devon and Cornwall Police are taking to social media with the hashtag #ThinkB4Upark to raise awareness of the issue.

Those motorists who are not considering if an emergency vehicle can get past are putting lives at risk by blocking off roads and even stopping on box junctions outside emergency service facilities. Anyone parked inconsiderately may find a leaflet under their windscreen wiper, these are not penalty charges but carry vital safety information.

It is not just parking that is the problem, and the campaign is urging drivers to be 'blue light aware, with recommendations on what to do if they hear sirens and see blue lights.

Anyone who spots an emergency services vehicle approaching behind should not panic, but simply pull over to allow it to pass, when it's safe to do so.

Geoff Griffin, acting operations manager for South Western Ambulance Service in West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “In a medical emergency, time is always critical. Careful driving and considerate parking can really help our paramedics to get to incidents quickly and this can make all the difference for a patient’s outcome.”

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for environment and public protection Sue James said: "None of us know when we, our family or friends might need an emergency vehicle. When parking on our narrow Cornish streets please cast an eye whilst locking your car and think, can an emergency vehicle pass by?"

The golden rules are: Stay calm, don’t panic or speed up in an attempt to get out of the way. Don’t go through red lights, veer into a bus lane or drive down the hard shoulder, and do not attempt to outrun a fire engine,

Stay alert, turn distracting music down and check mirrors. Look for somewhere safe to pull in but avoid kerbs, pavements, bends and junctions, and watch out for other motorists braking suddenly.

Check your mirror, indicate, and move to the left when it is safe to do so. Wait patiently to ensure all emergency vehicles have gone and then safely move back out into traffic.

For road safety guidance from SWASFT visit swast.nhs.uk/blue-lights-in-your-mirror.htm