New device helps fire crews respond to emergencies faster

KREM 2's Ryan Simms has the story

SPOKANE, Wash. --- Fire departments in Spokane now have access to a device that could help them get to emergencies faster.

The traffic signal device could improve emergency response times across the Inland Northwest.

Scott Fitzgerald knowns how critical a fast response can be when your family is in danger.

"First thought was to grab the phone and get my kid and get out the house,” said Fitzgerald.

A few years ago, a fire raced through his home.

"The oven was on and it had shorted,” said Fitzgerald. “Flames came out of it and it arched through the wall,” he added.

Fitzgerald’s fire emergency, demonstrates how important it is to respond to an emergency as quickly as possible.

The device is called Opticom, a built in computer program that allows firefighters to change the flow of traffic during an emergency.

It also allows rescuers to alter a traffic signal to save precious time.

Up until recently, Spokane Fire was one of the only agencies to have the technology, but that has now changed.

Spokane Fire recently allowed other agencies to access the Opticom system.

This means that emergency responders across the Inland Northwest can make their way through traffic faster.

Fitzgerald knows that a fast response can make all the difference in an emergency situation. 

"If they were 10 minutes later, it could've been a different scenario,” added Fitzgerald. 

(© 2016 KREM)


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