The deafening sound can startle children and adults alike, and the mere sight of them can make people cringe.
Though their sole purpose is to help those in need, ambulances aren't often thought of in the most positive of ways.
However, after a presentation at Ridgeview Elementary School on Wednesday, a few second-grade students might have second thoughts as to what they originally perceived an ambulance to be.
"I'm scared," said second-grader, Cole Mead. "I don't like ambulances, they're loud and scary. I hope that someday if I have kids, they won't ever have to go in one."
Mead, along with many other children, felt their fears subside once they got a closer look at what makes up an ambulance.
The initial apprehension and worry was replaced with a chorus of "oohs" and "cools," especially when the the flashing red lights and siren were briefly turned on.
"That's always their favorite part," said Charity Sjogren, Emergency Response Team (ERT) leader for The Memorial Hospital. "This is a good way for them to learn a little more about ambulances, and hopefully lay to rest some of the fears that they may have had."
Sjogren taught the class as part of National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, a week hat is set aside each year to recognize those who dedicate their time to providing care for others.
The Memorial Hospital employs three full-time Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), as well as 16 part-timers, who fill in at night and on the weekends.
"A lot of these children have fears about ambulances, so this way we can let them walk through one, see the equipment and realize that just maybe it's not so scary after all," Sjogren said. "Unfortunately, about the only contact that they would ever have with one would be if we were taking them, or someone that they cared about, away in it."
Sjogren also talked to the students about emergency situations and the best ways to deal with them.
"What are you supposed to do if there is an emergency?" she asked the class.
The students responded in unison, "Call 911!"
However, the questions began to get a little more difficult.
Most of the children were able to provide their own phone numbers in the case of an emergency.
"But what about if you were at your aunt's house," Sjogren asked. "Would you be able to tell the operator your number?"
A chorus of "no's" filled the room.
Sjogren confessed that she probably couldn't provide her aunt's phone number either, but there are other ways for the children to let people know their location. She said that both landmarks and street signs can be vital in getting help to the scene as quickly as possible.
"911 is very important for these kids to know," she said. "It's important that they know when to call, and even more importantly, when not to."