By: Cierra Putman
MIDLAND - When the alert sounds, they answer, but getting to an emergency can be deadly for first responders.
That's partially because other drivers get in their way and cause accidents.
Now, the Midland Fire Department has a plan to reduce the risk and it all rides on a little adhesive.
"When I was driving a command vehicle, a vehicle pulled in front of me at the last minute and we went into a skid," Asst. Fire Chief Fritz Niggeler, said. "It scared the driver. The outcome could have been really bad, but fortunately it wasn't a collision but it really was a near miss."
He says two simple words - keep right - could have prevented that near miss. Still, it's not always a close call. Every year, first responders die in accidents.
The Midland Fire Department hopes the "Keep Right" stickers will help folks remember the rules of the road.
"It seems to be helping so far," Driver Paramedic, Preston Wright, said. "People recognize a little more and pull to the right a little more instead of stopping where they are or pulling to the left."
As someone always behind the wheel of an ambulance or fire engine, he knows it's not always easy to get to an emergency safely.
"It gets a little frustrating sometimes," Wright said. "You know you have the days where it seems like you have to go around everybody and fight your way through traffic."
He thinks the "Keep Right" program can fix the problem if Midlanders want it to.
Drivers have to do their part by paying attention to what's going around them, by checking their rear and side view mirrors and really that's the only way this program will work.
Following the message can do more than prevent a deadly crash.
"When we have to slow down our response, that's time wasted," Niggeler said. "It could be the difference between life and death. You know in a 911 emergency that's typically the case that the prompt response is really needed."
Soon, all of the department's vehicles will sport the reminders. Then they hope the message will stick.