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Sunnyside ambulance responding to call collides with private vehicle

By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter


Sunnyside ambulance driver Gene Madrid points out the damage caused by a collision on March 10. Madrid was able to continue on his call but would like to caution drivers to be courteous and safe around emergency vehicles.

On March 10, a routine call for the Sunnyside ambulance service turned potentially dangerous when a local motorist reportedly failed to yield to an oncoming emergency vehicle with flashing lights and siren.

"It is important to be aware on the road at all times," said Sunnyside ambulance driver Gene Madrid. "We are trying to save a life during these calls and need the assistance and courtesy of the drivers in our communities."

When police cars, fire engines, ambulances and emergency vehicles approach using sirens, lights or warning devices, motorists must yield the right of way, according to the Utah drivers license division.

The division specifies that motorists should immediately move to the right side of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle has passed.

Unless on official business, motorists should not travel within 500 feet of the emergency vehicle.

The state drivers license division also recommends that automobile, van and pickup truck operators avoid parking or driving on the same block where an emergency vehicle has stopped to answer a call.

When approaching a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights, motorists must reduce travel speed and provide as much space as practical. If practical and safe, motorists should also move to a lane away from the emergency vehicle.

Madrid was able to continue the ambulance call due to the assistance of the East Carbon City Police Department.

The situation brings to light a fact that has been the prime issue for East Carbon and Sunnyside citizens during the past year - a new joint pubic safety building.

According to several members of the ambulance service the current accommodations for the emergency vehicles is so small that getting the back-up ambulance out of the garage is a two person job, which can eat up valuable time during a life or death emergency.

The friction over the pubic safety building has focused mainly on the combination of the two municipalities fire departments.

But according to longtime emergency medical technician Barbara Robinett the actual issue with the building is the ambulance service that attends to both communities.

The current ambulance garage is located on U.S. Highway 123 near the mouth of Whitmore Canyon.

The existing location has prompted East Carbon City Councilmember David Maggio to state during several public meetings that the first priority for public safety to the ambulance garage is off Bruin Point.

"Whether the facility is built in Sunnyside or East Carbon, the location will be a 100 percent improvement for the ambulance service," said Robinett.

Emergency Medical Services are a continuum of services available to individuals who seed care either by calling 911 dispatch or going directly to an emergency department.

The services include 911 dispatch assistance, EMT first response, ambulance transport, emergency department care, inpatient hospitalization including surgery and intensive care and patient rehabilitation.

Emergency medical services represent the intersection between health and pubic safety. By providing a health net for residents at locations across the state, the emergency medical services are vital to communities in Carbon County.

The local emergency medical response departments in Carbon County are looking to improve on numerous fronts during the 2007 calendar year.

For example, the Carbon County Ambulance service is getting ready to move into a new $2,025,000 building by the end of March.

In addition, the Utah Legislature established the EMS grants program for the purpose of improving the statewide delivery of emergency medical services.

The program is administered by the state bureau of emergency medical services and the Utah Department of Health, with the rules established by the EMS committee.

During the fiscal year 2007-2008, the department of health will distribute approximately $1,120,000 per capita to grant applicants across the state.

According to the bureau, recipients of the grants shall be limited to licensed EMS providers, designated dispatch agencies and designated first response agencies of local or state government non-profit entities.

For-profit licensed agencies that are the primary emergency medical service for an area are also eligible to receive funding from the program.

The dedication of the local EMTs frequently goes unnoticed by the public.

On the other hand, firefighters and law enforcement personnel respond to high profile emergency response situations.

Volunteer EMTs go through a comprehensive 11-week training course to become certified. After becoming certified, the emergency medical technicians are on call much of the time.






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