Clearing the road for emergency responders in heavy traffic

Our Colorado: Maneuvering through high congestion

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GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- As the population booms, so does traffic and congestion in Colorado. It’s a daily part of life for all of us, but is also a bigger challenge for our emergency crews rushing to respond to calls.

“The most common problem nowadays are these new vehicles that are being built. They are very sound proof so people first of all don't hear us coming,” said Joe Carbonaro, South Metro Fire Rescue Engineer.

When you're traveling down the road, the rule is pretty simple to pull over to the right. However, that may not always be an option—especially if you are stopped at an intersection with cars on both sides of you.

“We hope it becomes a chain reaction, so if one car moves to the right, the next car follows and the other car follows behind them,” said Carbonaro. “If you have to go through the red light when no one else is coming, you won’t be ticketed for that. We have to get through and if no other traffic is moving then its OK to run a red light to get through that light for us to pass.”

South Metro’s dispatch system, called MetCom, looks at street and highway cameras to help send crews on routes that will help them respond as quick as possible. MetCom will help emergency responders determine which lane to take for accidents on the highway depending on where the emergency is located.

“Sometimes the best thing for us to do is to ride that right shoulder until we can get over to the left. We all try to stay in one single file line,” said Carbonaro.

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