Navigating a Construction Zone When Lives Are on the Line

Communication is key when every second counts.

📅   Fri May 27, 2016 - Midwest Edition


Along with reviewing construction notices from the sheriff's office and emergency management each week, Clase and his assistant often hit the road to do their own research.
Along with reviewing construction notices from the sheriff's office and emergency management each week, Clase and his assistant often hit the road to do their own research.

Indiana news affiliate WLFI is reporting that this may be one of the most challenging summers yet for Tippecanoe County's Emergency Ambulance Service. TEAS Director Darrell Clase says communication is key when it comes to overcoming construction challenges.

“Our crews are sharing information, all of our departments locally are sharing information, and we are doing our absolute best to maintain the 911 response that our citizens are used to,” said Clase.

Along with reviewing construction notices from the sheriff's office and emergency management each week, Clase and his assistant often hit the road to do their own research.

“See what we've got,” said Clase as he drove off to look for changes in construction. Even though he said interdepartmental communication is strong, unexpected changes do happen.

“Sometimes it's something as simple as an individual lane shift, but it helps us get information just out to the crews if we see any changes or anything,” said Clase.

TEAS response times have increased slightly since the start of construction, but they're still below the national nine minute standard averaging seven to eight minutes to a call.

“Our biggest concern isn't so much the time frame cause the crews are still very good about responding in an acceptable time frame,” said Clase. “But we have to be very careful about those we are passing on the way to a scene.”

He said construction on roads like Happy Hollow is dangerous for emergency vehicles.

“Where would the bus even go?” asked News 18's Kayla Sullivan as the vehicle was following a bus on a one way road with no emergency shoulder to turn off.

“And that's just it, you can't,” said Clase referring to the bus. “A lot of times when you're lined up like this, if you've got someone behind you with lights and sirens, you know people can hear it but you just simply can't be seen.”

But Clase said construction workers have been great about getting out of the way for emergencies. Sometimes workers give first responders access to their coned-off space during calls.

“We just staged everything right on the other side of those barricades,” said Clase referring to a recent scene of an incident. “So, the construction actually helped out in that instance because we didn't have to fight with the traffic that would normally be coming through.”

Clase said when the construction is complete, it will not only help response times it may even decrease the number of accidents in the first place.

But until then, he will be monitoring the roads to make sure his vehicles have the best chance for a safe and timely response.

Source: WLFI