Midland Emergency Responders Having Trouble with Holiday Traffic

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

They're on the hunt for the perfect gift and holiday treats, and nothing will deter them. Not even an emergency crew, and that's putting other drivers in danger. Emergency crews say this time of year is the worst for trying to get to a scene. Drivers just aren't pulling over.

It's a case where seconds count. The tones go off, dispatchers call out, and responders have to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

"We have problems getting around this time of year because there is more traffic," Fire Marshall Jeff Meiner, said. "People are out shopping, and they're just everywhere."

Emergency crews say all too often, drivers aren't paying attention or just don't know what to do.

"A lot of times, people will just slow down and keep going and the emergency vehicle will try to turn to the right, but they can't because a vehicle is in the way," Meiner said.

NewsWest 9 spoke to several Midland drivers to find out what they have to say.

"I pull over," Midland Driver, Jordan Braun, said. "I try to get over to the right as quickly as I can."

"I've spent the last couple of years in the Dallas/Fort Worth area," Midland Driver, Mark Dettman, said. "They don't know how to do it there. They do know how to do it here."

It seems like everyone knows what to do, but when it comes down to the wire, EMS says Midland drivers freeze up.

"Sometimes people pull to the left and creates a problem which forces that emergency vehicle into oncoming traffic," Meiner said.

Emergency crews say busy intersections are the worst.

"There's an increase of people running red lights in Midland which is very dangerous," Meiner said. "And I think it's the same people that are in a hurry and their attention is somewhere else and they just don't see the emergency vehicle coming."

The Fire Department says a fire doubles every 30 seconds, and when cars don't pull over it can take minutes off their response time putting everyone in jeopardy.

"Just slow down," Meiner said. "I know it's a busy time of year, everybody out moving around, but just please, slow down."

Midland officials say technology is hurting them too. With people using cell phones and text messaging, drivers sometimes don't even realize when emergency crews are around. 

The Fire Department wants to remind drivers if you see them coming, slow down and stop on the right-hand side of the road, even if you're in the middle of an intersection.