Thursday, March 3, 2005
That's Just Wrong: Fire Truck Safety
You would think saving lives would be the hardest part of the job for firefighters and paramedics. But often times, just getting to the scene can be scary enough. The reason - drivers all over South Florida don't move to the side. And now, emergency workers are telling us that's just wrong.
WSVN -- Lights flashing, siren blaring -- absolutely no time to waste.
It's a common scene on South Florida roadways. But it seems more often than not, South Florida drivers don't know what to do.
Engine driver Arturo Alvarez-Recio: "They are distracted, some are on the phone, some are doing other things other than driving."
Firefighter Javier Perez: "It makes me extremely nervous, here we are talking about a very heavy vehicle traveling at 45, 50 MPH, we can't stop on a dime like small vehicle can."
Station 29 in Sweetwater is one of the busiest fire stations in the country, responding to almost more calls then any other firehouse. The men and women who work here say what they've seen is just wrong.
One distracted driver after another slowly moving aside. Sometimes, it's so bad they actually have to go to the other side of the road -- not only putting patients' lives at risk, but everyone else's as well.
Arturo Alvarez-Recio: "We delay to the call by people who want to race us to the end of the intersection. They will not yield, and hinder our progress through traffic."
In fact, last year, 104 firefighters across the U.S. lost their lives on the job.
Twenty of them died in vehicle crashes. Firefighters say the problem seems to be some drivers just freeze, instead of immediately pulling over.
Javier Perez: "It's just that they don't know what do when the ER vehicle is coming, most people don't understand to move to the side. It doesn't mean move to the right, it just means move out of the way."
Arturo Alvarez-Recio: "We are 11 ft. tall, 35 ft. long and we weight about 26 tons, don't play chicken with that."
And that's why they've released this public service announcement encouraging drivers to please abide and move aside.
Arturo Alvarez-Recio: "The best thing is to move aside. Move to the nearest curb, it does not necessarily have to be to the right but just move to the nearest curb and let us get through."
Rescue workers are also planning on making a pitch to lawmakers based on what they've seen work in other states.
When an emergency occurs, their suggestions include reserving the center lane for designated vehicles only.
Plus giving crews control of the signals at intersections so they will have faster access.
The bottom line is if you hear sirens or see lights, take precaution because every second counts.
Javier Perez: "You have to understand that if it were your family member, you would want us there as quickly as we can get there."
PLEASE SEND STORY IDEAS TO: