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Gridlock in Menlo Park affecting emergency response

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Gridlock can also be a matter of life and death in emergencies, especially if fire trucks and ambulances are stuck in stand-still traffic. (KGO-TV)

All of us have experienced the frustration that comes with gridlock, as more vehicles cram onto streets and freeways. But gridlock can also be a matter of life and death in emergencies, especially if fire trucks and ambulances are stuck in stand-still traffic.

Dashcam video aboard Menlo Park Fire District Engine One shows the driver having to go against traffic because of gridlock along Willow Road.

This is something fire crews are allowed to do but they prefer not to because of safety concerns.

Residents along the route share those concerns.

"It is only one lane there, one lane that way. There is a huge median in the way, so in case of an emergency, no one can get down," Menlo Park resident Marin Roque said.

"I'm very concerned, too. If something happened and you can't get the emergency vehicles in here, it is a problem. It's pretty much solid traffic in the afternoons from Middlefield Road to the Dunbarton Bridge," resident Eric Bunje said.

The rush of traffic in Menlo Park has become such a challenge, the department has an agreement with Palo Alto to drive through tier city to get around traffic if necessary.

"But our reality every day is, we need to have fast response times to get people's homes when they're on fire, when someone's had a heart attack, when someone's been in a vehicle accident, or when there's been a hazardous materials call," Menlo Park Fire District Chief Harold Schappelhouman said.

The goal in every 911 call is to get to the scene in seven minutes.

"Peak commute times, we're not meeting those standards. Again, that's about road design," Schappelhouman said.

A similar concern was raised by San Francisco Chief Joanne Hayes-White over narrow streets planned at a development in the Bay View-Hunter's Point District.

She was concerned fire trucks would not fit down the narrow streets.

As city planners are trying to manage traffic flows, Schappelhoumen is hoping emergency crews will have a voice in any changes.

Related Topics:
trafficambulancefirefightersdrivingMenlo Park
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