Columbia Co. fire trucks get new technology for faster response

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email
Fire technology in Columbia County

Cameras at intersections broadcast live at the Traffic Training Center in Evans. It's all about safety and efficiency. (WRDW-TV / June 27, 2012)

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, June 27, 2012

EVANS, Ga. -- Emergency response is about to get even quicker for people living in Columbia County. As of Wednesday, fire trucks are now equipped with special technology, letting them zoom through major intersections during an emergency.

"Second and minutes do matter," said Training Chief Brent Willis with the Martinez-Columbia Fire Department.

Crews are installing new equipment in each truck, so they can respond to your emergency even faster.

"It absolutely could make a difference in saving somebody's life," said Traffic Engineer Glen Bollinger.

And everything is wireless. When an emergency vehicle approaches a traffic light, the lights will change.

"The yellow zones indicate where it actually detects the emergency vehicle, so it knows which lights to turn red and which lights to turn green," Bollinger said.

It helps keep both residents and firefighters safe.

"A lot of times when a fire truck is approaching the intersection, it's difficult to tell which direction they're actually coming from," Bollinger said.

Next time you're driving through an intersection, look up. There are cameras everywhere, which broadcast live at the Traffic Training Center in Evans. It's all about safety and efficiency.

"It's a smart system. It actually changes traffic signals and keeps traffic flowing, minute by minute," Bollinger said. "You can't build new roads. It costs so much money, so we're trying to get the most efficiency out of what we have."

Johnny Whitfield is all about his taxpayer money going toward better, safer roads.

"I think it's an excellent idea," he said. "I think it keeps down confusion, with the traffic first of all. It makes it safer for the drivers. Then at the same time, it could eliminate those seconds you need for an emergency."

Seconds are precious when you're talking about lives.

"I think it is becoming a wave of the future. It's printing the safety of the firefighters, as well as the community," Willis said.

Once things are done, the system is expected to cost about a couple hundred thousand dollars. Right now there are 15 cameras at intersections around town, and they're hoping to install about 20 more. Eventually, the plan is for all deputy patrol cars to have the equipment, along with ambulances.

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